In the early 1940's, due to an increase of new homes being built in the north-east area of Sarnia, it became apparent that a new school was necessary to service the needs of this area's children.
On Feb. 19, 1943 the School Board purchased 6.5 acres of land east of Russell St. and south of Maria St. A 24 room school was planned, with an initial development of 12 rooms.
Because of WWII there was a shortage of materials and manpower which caused many delays. The initial opening date of September 1946 would not be reached. Students were to attend Lochiel St. School in the interim.
By Christmas all but 2 classes were able to attend the new school.
A committee was struck to help in the naming of the new school. The school was to serve as a monument to Board members who were responsible for its construction.
The name "Hanna Memorial School" was selected in memory of Mrs. Maude Hanna. Service to her community was important to Mrs. Hanna. She made a gift to the City of Sarnia that helped make Canatara Park possible. Donations also contributed to purchasing Hanna Park on Mitton St., the Horticultural Garden on College Ave., and the operating costs of a street car that helped take children to use the beach at Huron Park. She was also active in other areas involving children.
The design of Hanna Memorial School made it an example to other schools in Canada and the United States. People came to study the design and see it's educational advantages----wide halls, large foyer, spacious classrooms, and the unique kindergarten section with its large bay windows . Other walls contained large areas of glass to allow maximum entrance of sunlight.
The school was officially opened on Feb. 11, 1947 by the Honorable D.R. Michner, later to be the Governor-General of Canada.
In 1996 a committee was formed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hanna Memorial School. The committee was made up of previous/existing staff, students, administration, and parents. The committee decided to fundraise to put together a yearbook that would tell the history of the school from its conception to its existence. As part of the anniversary events, there was an open house at the school May 31, 1997 from noon to 5 p.m. At the celebrations there was a plaque presented to the siblings of Mrs. Maude Hanna.
About Mrs. Maude Hanna
The portrait of Maude Hanna in our foyer is a significant reminder of a truly remarkable woman.
She was a Sarnian, our namesake, who had a special place in her heart for all children. She loved nature and made a point of preserving it to its fullest. Mrs. Hanna was formerly Maud McAdam, who was born in 1870 and died in 1946.
She married William John Hanna who became the President of Imperial Oil as well as an Ontario Cabinet Minister. Mr. and Mrs. Hanna had two daughters, Mrs. Margaret Spaulding and Mrs. Catherine Sproat.
Maude Hanna is remembered as a kind and generous woman. She was responsible for providing free street car rides to the beach for children. Perhaps her most generous gift was a donation needed for the Sarnia Council to purchase Canatara Park. She later donated more funds in order to purchase Lake Chipican. Her generosity continued with her contributions toward the Sarnia Boy Scouts Association, Lambton Music Festival and learning materials used in schools.
Mrs. Hanna also donated her time to the Red Cross Society and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. As an extension of her fondness of the environment, she spent much of her time with the horticultural society, focusing on preserving nature and making the public aware of pollution.
In 1947, Hanna Memorial School was architecturally regarded as an example of one of the finest schools in Canada. Many visitors, both nationally and internationally, visited the school to see its uniqueness of a one story design. Hanna School deserved a special name and was honoured with one in memory of Mrs. Hanna, a truly outstanding Sarnian.