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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Craigflower School

The Craigflower Schoolhouse (originally called Maple Point School), the oldest surviving school building in Western Canada, was built on orders from Kenneth MacKenzie. He came from Scotland with his family in 1852 to establish a farm for the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, a subsidiary of the Hudson's Bay Company.

A school was needed for the children of farm employees, as well as those of arriving settlers. The school was started to be built on August 21, 1854 and was completed February 23, 1855. Lumber and foundation bricks were produced at Craigflower Farm across the Gorge. Glass, hardware, and large bricks were imported from England. Total cost was about $4300.

The two-storey building had one schoolroom, and six rooms for the teacher, his family and student boarders from the western communities. The school opened in March, 1855. That same week a ship's bell from the steamer Major Tompkins, that wrecked off Macaulay Point, was hung in the yard. The first Craigflower bridge was built the next winter linking the school to the Craigflower settlement. The building became a focal point for social and religious events. It was used as a school until 1911, when the new Craigflower School was built across the road (superceded by a third building in 1964).

The old school was vacant until it was converted to a museum which the Native Sons and Daughters of British Columbia ran from 1931 until 1975. The provincial Historic Parks and Sites Branch then acquired the property, restored it and reopened it as a museum too.

This simple structure is side-gabled and has brick chimneys both ends. There is a large fireplace in the schoolroom and another in the teacher's quarters. The fourteen-inch-thick walls are composed of sawn clapboard siding applied to diagonal sheathing over standard Hudson's Bay Company log construction. Hewn horizontal logs were slid down from the top between vertical uprights, the joists hewn and sawn, and the roof timbers sawn. The building was set on a concrete foundation in 1929.
Tomorrow we'll have a closer look at the schoolhouse and at nearby Craigflower Manor, home to many of the children who attended this school.


Babzy.B said...

I' m looking forward the next photos of the school ,very interesting post ,i love the sound of bells,beautiful photos !

USelaine said...

I have an odd interest in old doorknobs, with their sort of spiritual connection to all the hand turns of so many generations. Nice shot.