Documented to be in use as far back as 1822, although suspected to be in use even earlier, the Little Hyatt one room schoolhouse has been a staple in the hamlet of Milby for decades. After closing its doors in 1948, the schoolhouse passed through many hands before landing in the hands of the Little Forks Branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada. The branch then established Patrimoine-Ascott Heritage, a non-profit organization to restore the important space. Over the more than 25 years of hard work, the group has done just that and turned the schoolhouse into a wonderful piece of preserved history.
“It’s been a struggle. We’re all volunteers and we’re all seniors,” said Bev Loomis, former president of the two groups. explaining that many members have passed on. “It’s difficult to attract the younger generation.”
Despite the challenges of looking after a historical site during the pandemic, Loomis still fervently tends to the finished schoolhouse. The schoolhouse even features a tour guide who welcomes interested visitors from Wednesday to Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Eve de Groot, the schoolhouse’s tour guide, will take visitors through time with stories from the period and interesting facts.
“It’s a great learning experience,” said de Groot. Although the summer guide attends high school in Italy, she lives with her grandparents in the area during the summer, which is in close proximity to the schoolhouse.
“I grew up all over the place,” said de Groot, “but I come here every summer so I guess I kind of grew up here. It’s the constant place in my life.”
De Groot estimated that each free tour she gives takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes.
“Not many people come by. I had four groups once, that was my max in a day,” she said. Although considered an anglophone schoolhouse, she revealed that the majority of visitors are francophone. She encouraged the English-speaking population to feel welcome to stop by.
Even when de Groot is not giving tours, visitors are welcome to enjoy the historic area. The schoolhouse was closed during the pandemic, but visitors still enjoyed the sizable green space that features historic interpretation panels and plaques.
“Lots of times they brought a picnic lunch,” she said, “never any damage or any garbage.”
In other exciting news, Loomis proudly referred to the website historicsplacesdays.ca, which featured the schoolhouse as one of almost 600 historical sites in Canada as a must-visit. The list was compiled by the National Trust for Canada, which recognized the Little Hyatt one room schoolhouse as a national historic place in 2019. Also on the list from the Eastern Townships is the Louis S. St-Laurent National Historic Site in Compton. You can read about the Little Hyatt one room schoolhouse on the historicplacesdays website: https://historicplacesdays.ca/...