Prince of Wales Public School in Peterborough marks centenary

Prince of Wales Public School on Monaghan Road will celebrate its 100th anniversary this fall.

I attended school from 1944 to 1953. When I was at Teachers’ College, I taught there.

During these nine years, I have fond memories.

A lot of my lifelong memories were playing sports for school. It was soccer in the fall, hockey in the winter and softball in the spring. None of the schools had gyms or indoor activity facilities, so no indoor sports were offered.

Hockey became regular after the opening of the Civic Arena in 1948 and the installation of an artificial ice factory in 1949. Before, everything was done on the outdoor rinks.

If I remember correctly, there were only six other public schools that we competed against: Queen Mary, Central, Queen Alexandra, King George, King Edward and Mays School.

When we played soccer and softball in other schools, we would leave the classroom early to go to the games on our own. The teacher-trainer took the equipment and sweaters in his car, but never any player.

Getting to King George and Queen Alex was pretty tough for Prince. No bus, no parents, just to sabotage the whole way.

There were usually three divisions in each sport; junior, intermediate and senior.

Also, there was the boys’ entrance to the school at the north end and the girls entered at the south end of the building. In addition, the backfield has been divided for recreation. Big problem if you used the wrong entrance or crossed to the other side of the field.

For hockey, we made our way to the Civic Arena on Park Street on our own carrying our padding and skates in a canvas duffel bag usually borrowed from a relative who fought in the war. Some bags had interesting designs that we took care to hide in the locker room at the back of our teacher’s classroom.

It wasn’t a big deal for us that parents rarely attended the games. In fact, we rarely told them when we played.

One year I remembered an evening game where we, as 1951 public school intermediate hockey champions, faced the Catholic school winner. I think that only happened if the two coaches organized the match themselves.

The recreations at Prince were special, especially in the winter. We had the hill behind the school. After the first snowfall, snowball battles to get to the top of the hill were commonplace.

As the Korean War raged at the time, the Battles became our reenactment of the then famous fight for Pork Chop Hill.

Later, a slide would develop from children sliding down the hill, either on their feet or on pieces of cardboard. Soon he became icy and extremely treacherous. I remember picking up a 12 point gash on one eye going down that hill.

After school in the evening, we took our slides and sleds up the hill.

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There was a vacant lot on Grandview Avenue, the street that runs south from Sherbrooke Street to the top of the hill. Apparently there must have been a chicken coop up there because that was what it was called.

When the snow conditions were perfect, and this was on rare occasions, we could start above Grandview in the chicken coop, cross the street, continue down the hill, pass the girls’ entrance to the school, go down the steps, carefully cross Monaghan Road and continue from Patterson Street to Rutherford Avenue.

Happy Birthday Prince, you have played an important role in the lives of the thousands of students who have walked your halls over the past century.

Don Barrie is a retired teacher, former Buffalo Sabers scout and a member of the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame and the Peterborough & District Sports Hall of Fame. His column appears every Saturday in The Examiner.

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