Plans underway for school’s centennial

Residents of Blind Bay and surrounding areas are invited for coffee at the Blind Bay Hall on July 11 at 10 a.m.

  • Jul. 5, 2013 5:00 p.m.

Residents of Blind Bay and surrounding areas are invited for coffee at the Blind Bay Hall on July 11 at 10 a.m., to hear about the plans being developed for a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Blind Bay School.

Coffee and refreshments will be served and there will be an opportunity to learn more about the interesting history of the area, says Ann Chidwick, who is writing a book based on Blind Bay’s history to be released in 2014.

“When today’s residents of the bay look at all the homes that have been built in the area, they have little knowledge of the hard-working people who homesteaded here,” says Chidwick.

Among the snippets of information that will be shared over coffee will be:

• How the first settlers stepped off the train at Notch Hill and found a path to pristine Shuswap Lake where fish and wildlife were abundant;

• How an early settler, Frank Barnard, skated to Copper Island while chasing a coyote with his hockey stick;

• A grizzly bear was raiding the Barnard garden and a trap was set. On return, the trap had been dragged away. Two men went after the trapped, very angry bear and were caught by him. What was the result?

• How the settlers coped before there were roads and easy access to food supplies and medical help;

• The historic sites that have been identified in the area.

As more settlers arrived, the need for a school became evident. John Reedman wrote to the board of education requesting a school and teacher for his six children, and was allocated the grand sum of $250 toward the cost of a school house.

The remainder of the money was collected from the families living in the area. In 1912, Norm McLean donated three acres of property and the school was built with volunteer labour during 1913 by work bees called for each Saturday.

The school opened January 3, 1914 with eight pupils enrolled, and Miss May Read as the first teacher. The one-room, white-sided school stood on the site of the present-day Blind Bay Memorial Hall at 2510 Blind Bay Road.

The school was closed in 1951 as part of the province’s consolidation of school districts. Some of the students went to the Sorrento School and others were bused to a consolidated school at Carlin. The vacant school then became the Blind Bay Hall, and a new memorial hall was built and opened in 1980.