The school board cat
In January 1950, during an expense audit, Toronto school board trustee C. R. Conquergood asked Dr. C. C. Goldring, the director of education, an unusual question: “How many cats do you have on your staff?”
His finger jabbed at an item on the Rose Avenue school budget: “$4.80—Cat Food.”
The hungry employee turned out to be a small grey mouser of unknown gender, orphaned and found roaming the Cabbagetown neighbourhood. It had been brought by the school from the Humane Society to deal with several rats.
The cat had bought the rodents’ remains to the caretaker’s office as hoped, H. B. Kerruish, the principal, told Conquergood.
The reward for snatching up the pests was $4.80 worth of food—almost $50 in today’s money—paid out of school funds. Trustee Conquergood was furious.
The issue now was what to do with the un-named tabby. As an employee of the school, trustee Harold Menzies wondered whether the cat was eligible for a pension.
"I don’t believe I know anything about the gentleman in question," the attending business administrator responded. “We’re really not quite sure whether it is a gentleman or not," said Menzies.
The press attention generated several enquiries from families who had lost pets, but none identified the cat as their own. Rather than drawing a pension, the board suggested the cat be given a scholarship instead, but the director of education decided it wasn’t worth the expense.
"I have taken steps to see that the cat’s food in future is not to be charged to the academic account," Goldring ruled.
The Rose Avenue School cat wasn’t heard from again.