The Late Elias Boughner
Elias Boughner was born in
Windham, Norfolk County,
6 Feb 1845 on Lot 6, Concession 13 -- the Boughner homestead since
The Boughner's were U. E.
Loyalists who came to Canada after the Revolutionary War and settled
for a time near the Niagara frontier, but finally settled in Norfolk
and became a numerous family here.
Young Boughner was educated
in the Public Schools of the home neighborhood. This was early in
the days of the Ryerson regime and the schools were very primitive
in architecture and outfit for the pupils' rapid progress; but there
were some excellent schools in South Windham at that day, in which
many of the youngsters received all the schooling they ever had, and
became influential and prominent citizens of Norfolk.
Mr. Boughner's experience,
no doubt, led to ohis off-repeated statement that with all the extra
expense and improved methods today, progress does not seem
commensurate with present-day efforts.
From the education thus
received, aided by private study, Mr. Boughner was able to
successfully pass the prescribed examination for a Common School
Teacher, and for some 20 years was engaged in that profession.
Much is said about the meagre
salaries paid to public school teachers. Mr. Boughner began teaching at
Houghton Centre in 1866 on a salary of $24 per month, and his success
was a surprise to his friends, as many male teachers were only getting
$20. He afterwards was rewarded with advances in different schools to
$300, $350, $400 and $450. The latter was regarded as very high.
His early school days ran
back to the times when the teacher "boarded around." A
young Scotchman of fair education and considerable literary talent
came to the neighborhood and engaged to "keep the school"
for the magnificent sum of $12 per month and board around. Every one
sending children was expected to board the teacher in proportion to
the number of pupils sent to school.
This continued for the next
three months, when other arrangements were made. He was a successful
teacher for the time, but the cup that cheers and inebriates led to
his removal. This term was the last of "boarding around"
in South Windham.
Mr. Boughner held a
certificate as public school teacher bearing the date 30 Dec 1864,
signed by William Craigie, Chairman, and James Covernton, Secretary
of the Board of Instruction, of Norfolk.
These gentlemen, with
others, viz. D. W. Freeman of Windham, Elder VanLoon of Townsend,
John A. Backhouse of Walsingham, and others, were the Local
Superintendents of Education in the various municipalities, doing
much of the work now entrusted to the County Inspector; and whose
influence and labors were greatly appreciated by the people.
In 1872, Mr. Boughner was
elected to the Municipal Council of Windham. It was unusual in those
days for a young man to be chosen for such a position, but his
choice seemed satisfactory, as he was repeatedly elected to the
County Council, being Reeve in 1888 and 1889, when he retired from
both municipal service and teaching.
In 1889 he was chosen by the
Conservatives of North Norfolk to contest the riding against the
exceedingly popular sitting member, John H. Freeman.
Mr. Freeman died very
shortly after the election, and Mr. Boughner was again the
standard-bearer of his party. He was defeated in both contests, but
put up a strong fight, and in the later of the two elections polled
the largest vote ever given a Conservative in the riding.
The writer well remembers
the oratorical contest on nomination day between Mr. Boughner and G.
W. Ross, then Minister of Education, and admittedly one of the
greatest platform speakers Canada has produced. The consensus of
opinion, shared by Ross himself, was that the country school teacher
had not come out second best.
In addition to his
educational and political labors, Mr. Boughner was greatly
interested in the work of the Agricultural Societies on Windham
Township and Norfolk County. He served each society for many years
in different capacities.
He was appointed County
Clerk of Norfolk in 1900. Since then he has served the community
faithfully and well, and he met his death by injuries received in a
successful attempt to protect from fire the records entrusted to his
Mr. Boughner joined the
Methodist Church in 1864, and has since been an earnest worker on
its behalf. He had taken special interest in the Sunday Schools,
have been a Bible Class leader for years.