Cape Breton school beneficiary of $50K, 80-year-old trust

A small Cape Breton school is the beneficiary of a trust established nearly 80 years ago by a wealthy Nova Scotia businessman.

Bayview Education Centre to receive about $2K per year

Bayview Education Centre in Port Hood is getting a cheque for $52,553, thanks to a recent decision by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. (

A small Cape Breton school is the beneficiary of a trust established nearly 80 years ago by a wealthy Nova Scotia businessman.

A recent decision by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court means Bayview Education Centre in Port Hood is getting a cheque for $52,553.

The money is from the estate of Obediah Edmund Parker Smith who died in 1934. He was born on Port Hood Island in 1863 and received his early education at the school.

When he died, Smith bequeathed one per cent of his estate to the school. When that school closed, the money was then given to the Margaret Ann Memorial School, which taught children on Port Hood Island.

Margaret Ann Memorial ceased being a traditional school in 1982. Ten years later, the administrators of Smith's trust started withholding the money. Last year, the trustees went to court, seeking direction.  

In a decision released last week, the court ruled that Bayview Education Centre — a Grade Primary to Grade 8 school in Port Hood — should receive the funds.

"It's the first time I've run into it," said William Cormier, director of finance for the Strait Regional School Board. He's the one responsible for seeing the money is spent properly.  

"We are required in our financial statement to have that segregated in an account," Cormier said in a recent interview.

"I'm charged with keeping a record of that amount of money and there's a court order on what it can be used with."

In its decision, the court made it clear that the money was not to be used for regular school expenses.  

"We're not going to say we're going to pay for one of our teachers with this money," Cormier said. "This has to be an addition, something that wouldn't normally happen."

Janice Campbell, the principal at Bayview Education Centre, has a pretty good idea how the money will be spent.

"We're going to develop panels depicting the history of the community of Port Hood in co-operation with the museum and they'll be panels of sort of like interactive maps that they'll be used," Campbell said in a recent interview. 

"At our school itself, what we're looking at doing is creating an outdoor classroom," Campbell said. "This would consist of five sections, like a place for reflection, a reading area."

From his roots on Port Hood Island, Obediah Smith went on to head the Morse Tea company, housed in an iconic building that still stands in Halifax's historic properties.

"He never forgot his local roots and community and he always wanted what was best for the children of Port Hood Island and the Port Hood area," said Campbell, who is also from Port Hood.  "That was indicated through his trust fund."

In addition to the cheque for $52,553, the Smith Trust will continue to pay an annual instalment to the Bayview Education Centre. At current market rates, that annual payment is about $2,000.

The payments to Bayview Education Centre represent only 1 per cent of the Smith Trust which also funds 22 other worthwhile causes he remembered in his will.


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