Here’s a little of what you’ll find in A History of Oldfield Consolidated School 1962-2017 by John N. Grant.
The Oakfield School District was named in honour of the estate and community established by Major (later Lieutenant-General) John Wimburn Laurie (1835-1912). Laurie arrived in Nova Scotia in 1861, and he married Francis Robie Collins at St. Paul’s Church in Halifax in 1863. Her father, Enos Collins (1774-1871), was an entrepreneurial businessman who accumulated one of the greatest fortunes in British North America, and her mother, Margaret Haliburton Collins, was a member of the provincial gentry, a descendent of both Sir Breton Haliburton, Chief Justice of Nova Scotia, and Charles Inglis, the first Lord Bishop of the province.3 Collins apparently hoped the young couple would settle near Windsor where he owned land, but they set their hearts on Grand Lake. In 1865, Laurie purchased 500 acres of land there and called the estate ‘Oakfield’. One of his descendants later recorded that it “was a shock to their many friends in society when Col. and Mrs. Laurie closed their house on Morris Street [Halifax] and moved 25 miles away to the house they were building in the woods on the shores of Grand Lake.”4 The closest settlement was Fletcher’s Bridge, which Laurie eventually renamed Wellington in honour of the great British war hero and political leader, Arthur Wellesley, (1769-1852), the Duke of Wellington.
Oakfield grew to become more than the name of the house and grounds. Laurie hired labourers and the land was cleared. As Clara Dennis reported in 1937, “Field after field of twenty-five acres each was laid out by the Major. … They open one into another and are surrounded by stone walls sheltered by rows of trees. And such stone walls! Over four feet high and six feet thick they are, all built of stone taken from the Major’s land.”5 Despite Laurie’s military and other duties elsewhere, he did not lose interest in his Oakfield estate.
As years went on, Oakfield developed. Land was added on both sides of the lake, cottages were built, each having field, barn, and woodlot, and in 1873, Col. Laurie came back from a visit to England with a number of Devonshire men. Their families were settled into the cottages, a school was built, the church had been constructed in 1866, and for years Oakfield was an English settlement in the backwoods.6
A History of Oldfield Consolidated School 1962 – 2017 by John N. Grant is now available as an eBook at Amazon. It is available to Kindle Unlimited Members.
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