Elmvale - Heart of a Rural Community
Elmvale is a community that has attempted to meet the needs of those who populated the rural basin in which it is located. Those needs included the physical, educational, recreational, and spiritual. Elmvale has been the centre of a "small town culture" that attracts those that want more control in their lives, and those who want their families to grow up with a sense of community in their blood.

100 Plus Years of Fall Fair Partnership
Elmvale had a nice two-story brick school which was partitioned to include secondary classes by 1877. At the turn of the century, 1900, 1500 area students including the secondary classes, marched to the local arena grounds in celebration of the annual fall fair. Their participation in the weekend celebrations included displaying produce and animals, preparing school projects, arranging writing and artistic displays, etc. They were excited to be a part of a fair that attracted 6000 adults at a time when Barrie was boasting 1500 paid attendees. When Elmvale celebrated the fall fair in the millennium year, 2000, fifteen hundred area students (Hillsdale, Wyevale, Elmvale, Phelpston) paraded to the fair grounds. The paid attendance on Saturday was 6000. Thus, a tradition of school participation, undiminished after 100 years.

Elmvale District High School students have traditionally provided floats, school displays of projects, candidates for the ambassador competition, calf and produce displays, and helpers for the dozens of jobs that require volunteers for such a massive community event. EDHS is part of the community which is busy conserving rural culture and traditions. Students have had a food booth to help fund high school needs (uniforms, musical instruments, etc.)

Public School Students and Catholic School Students in the same Buses
By the mid 1950's a new secondary school was being planned, and although it was small, graduates did very well when they left to attend post secondary institutions. The high school served a community that was pleased to have secondary and elementary students from public and catholic school boards ride the same buses to the schools in Elmvale. This area has been a model of such co-operation for over fifty years. This is another example of the community educational needs trumping religious preferences.

Showcasing Highschool Talent at the Maple Syrup Festival
By the mid seventies this area was recognizing a need to bring in some outside money to help fund recreational needs and upgrade cultural facilities that were under funded by tax dollars. A maple syrup festival was started. The high school students were enlisted as volunteers to help with the parking, provide entertainment on the street, provide a talent show to showcase musical and dance talent, participate in an ambassador contest, clean up after the event, serve pancakes, etc. EDHS contunues to show that young people can work hand-in-hand with the community, and the students can take pride in helping grow our festival to be the second largest maple syrup festival in Ontario.

EDHS Day - Everyone Deserves Help from Students
Each year in May the high school stages an event unique to this area, EDHS Day. EDHS Day has come to mean "Everyone Deserves Help from Students". The students volunteer to help organizations and individuals in the community with such jobs as painting, cleaning, repairing, etc. There is no charge for the service; it is a service to highlight the co-operation between community and school and to thank the community for the support shown for high school activities.

In recent years I have had students come to Heritage Park to paint benches, maintain trails, trim trees, plant gardens, groom the amphitheature, and establish wind breaks. Ths volunteers have been enthusiastic and skilled, interested and persistent. I cannot speak highly enough of the workers that helped and the teachers that helped supervise.

Sunday evening concerts in the park
Heritage Park was a millennium project of this area; high school students worked with the adult community in its creation. Every June since its establishment EDHS students have put on a Sunday Evening Musical Concert, showcasing their talents with voices and instruments. Their efforts help the park with the funding needed to maintain it as a jewel in the Springwater Park system.

Safety and convenience issues
The secondary school is located in a central location that also houses churches, arena and stores that serve the surrounding area. Parents coming to pick up students who participate in after school activities can pick up groceries or take a student to music lessons, skating, hockey, etc. Older children can look out for younger siblings who travel on the same bus.

Continuity of Programming
The Elementary School has a marching band (the only one in Ontario). Students learn some of the discipline required for musical presentation. Music has become a highlight of programming in EDHS as well, continuing a great opportunity for those that have developed an appetite for music. This is just an example of the continuity of programming that has been possible between the elementary and secondary levels of education. Our community needs this continuity.

Students with special needs have the continuity in their programs that is only possible where the teachers responsible for their transition from elementary to secondary school are only a stone's throw away.


  1. Elmvale is the centre of a cultural community which is rural in nature, a farming community bordered by a burgeoning city to the south, a cottage/recreational area to the west, forested land to the east and Midland/Penetang to the north. It has existed for 150 years as a unique cultural area. A secondary school has been crucial to the maintenance of that culture.
  2. Elmvale community has had a tradition of supporting the high school (co-op programs, funding to extra-curricular events, help with capital projects, provision of scholarships, etc.). The high school students and teachers have had a tradition of meaningful interaction with the community. This relationship is only possible with a high school located in Elmvale.
  3. Many people relocate to this area because there is a high school with a tradition of excellence, that is small enough that students are recognized for their character rather than their number. It makes educational sense to build where community and school have learned to rely upon each other for support.

George E. Allen
Retired Educator