The Wednesday morning summer lecture series at Keir Memorial Museum, Malpeque will kick off July 11, 10 a.m. at Keir Memorial Museum with an illustrated presentation by Earle Lockerby. His topic will be “Excellence and Benevolence: Fanning Grammar School.”
The museum is situated in Malpeque, 2214 Route 20.
This school building still exists and is presently located within Cabot Park in Malpeque. It is said to be one of the oldest rural schools of P.E.I. still in existence and is perhaps the only one that has a classroom on each of two stories.
The building, which is believed to date from about 1830, has a storied past, partly because of its connection to the family of Governor Fanning, and partly because it, or its predecessor, was one of the three grammar schools originally established at Princetown, Georgetown and Charlottetown. These schools provided for a higher level of education than other publicly- funded schools. Two of Governor Edmund Fanning’s daughters provided endowments to this school and its trustees. The largess of one of these benefactors resulted in a scholarship and prizes that began in 1885 and continue to be awarded to students from Malpeque to this day.
Even before legislation was passed in 1825 to facilitate the establishment of grammar schools, Malpeque had gained a reputation for its excellence of schooling under the wing of Rev. Dr. John Keir. It is believed that a few of the leading families of Charlottetown sent their sons to Malpeque to be schooled, probably during the 1810 to 1820 period, such students including Edward Palmer, Ralph Brecken, John MacGowan and Robert (later, Sir Robert) Hodgson. Also, several of the school’s teachers went on to very distinguished careers of their own, one such teacher being Andrew (later, Sir Andrew) Macphail. For a brief period, Lucy Maud Montgomery attended the Fanning Grammar School.
The school closed in 1970 as a result of the massive school consolidation program that took place in the 1960s throughout Prince Edward Island, leading to more than 100 school boards being reduced to only five. In 1993 Fanning School was moved to Cabot Park where it served for about a decade as an activity centre and ice cream dispensary for park goers. In 1996 the school had a brief “period in the sun” during which it served as Blair Water School for the filming of the TV Series, “Emily of New Moon”.
The building has been closed for the last five or so summers and its future is uncertain.