Surrey's oldest remaining one–room school house has endured a long and sometimes challenging history. Following its life as a pioneer school it has served the community for a variety of uses; it has been relocated and suffered extended periods of vacancy. Now however, this little school is facing a bright new future as it is about to embark on another relocation and a new purpose on the grounds of the Surrey Museum currently undergoing expansion in Cloverdale.
The original Anniedale School opened in 1891 with thirteen pupils and is one of Surrey's valued heritage structures. As the oldest existing school in the District it is a classic example of early pioneer one–room school houses. It was built by Sam Edge of Hammond, BC with a contracted price of $750. However, costs were kept low by eschewing decorative elements and the deletion of a fence bringing the actual cost down to $660. The building was a symmetrical plan with simple detailing and probably sat on a foundation of cedar pier blocs and fieldstone. As were many early schools, the building was designed by the British Columbia Department of Lands and Works and was a standard one–room plan. It is a simple wood frame building with a hipped roof. An enclosed porch was a later addition as was the exterior school bell. The school yard had a woodshed, two outhouses and a well with a water pump in the front of the building. Originally located at 18087 96th Ave. (Townline Road), Anniedale, was named after the wife of a pioneer settle who donated the one acre (0.4 hectare) parcel for the school. See Naming Anniedale School In recognition of its significance, it is listed on the register of Canada's Historic Places and the City of Surrey's Heritage Register.
The first teacher was Mr. Duncan J. Welsh of Milner (Langley), instructing students ranging in age from four years old to fifteen in grades one through eight. Children began at a young age since if more than eight students attended, the Provincial Government would pay the teacher's salary. Pupils came to this school from the general Port Kells area, and as far away as Latimer Road and Barnston Island. Until its closure, the old Anniedale School played a vital role in the lives of the community's children and during all its years of operation had the distinction within the district of having the highest percentage of its graduates go on to higher education.
The school was closed in 1954, when a new Anniedale Elementary School was opened. The last teacher at the original school was Miss Shirley Schuster and sadly, the old school remained vacant for twenty years, in danger of being torn down as the construction of Highway 1 approached. When all of the students were moved to the new school near 96th Ave and 176th Street, the original one was temporarily used as a community centre and a meeting place for the Anniedale Community Organization. However, the condition had deteriorated so badly that by the early 1970s it was basically falling apart, sitting on a sliver of property leftover from highway construction.
The school was saved from probable demolition by the dedication and work of community volunteers organized by the Anniedale Parent Teacher Association who tirelessly worked towards the goal of restoring the building to it original condition and preserving its historical significance. These local residents worked for years to obtain the necessary approvals and funds. A federal grant was obtained through the Local Initiative Program and additional monies were raised from the municipal government, donations from local firms and individuals along with fundraising events. Once ownership was secured from the Department of Highways, the next step was moving it to the grounds of the new school where security, heat and light would be readily available.
On a snowy day in late December 1975, the old school was moved by truck to its new home about one kilometer away.
Anniedale School on moving day in the December 22, 1975 edition of the Columbian Newspaper. Image courtesy of Surrey Archives.
George Hoffman, an independent contractor, took a personal interest in seeing the school restored. Hoffman served as project manager, administering the funding and working with the community volunteers. Once moved, serious efforts began to restore the school to its previous state with the installation of period fixtures, an antique cast iron stove that had been found in an old shed behind the school along with period desks donated by the Penticton School Board and an original slate chalk board scavenged from a Vancouver elementary school. A basement was added to expand storage space. The restoration was completed in 1976 and the building was turned over to the School Board. Old Anniedale school than began to serve as an historic study centre where students were given the chance to become pioneers for the day and experience what it was like to go to school at the end of the 19th century. The school also presented an annual pioneer Christmas program for grade three students. On February 16, 1987 the Anniedale Pioneer School, a Designated Heritage Site, was dedicated to the children of Surrey.
The School Board operated this study centre until the mid 1990s when the little school was once again abandoned and its future put in jeopardy. Concerned about the fate of this school, the Surrey Historical Society became early advocates for restoring the building and moving it to a public space where it could once again be used. Lobbying the City of Surrey, the Society expressed concerns that this historic property was once again rotting away and facing the dangers of damp and mold and, of course, the possibility of vandalism.
Many issues complicated the project, including ownership. Recognizing the importance of the matter, Surrey's Heritage Advisory Commission undertook the necessary first step of commissioning a structural assessment and conservation plan. The report included estimates for moving and restoration costs and concluded the building was structurally sound and could be safely moved. The Commission then committed to work with the City of Surrey to undertake the purchase of the building from the School Board as well as the relocation and restoration of the school.
It was decided the best location would be on the grounds of the expanded museum. Once again, the old school will be restored as a living museum, showing what pioneer education was like at the turn of the last century. It will be a flexible space available for a variety of programs and events.
The City's budget for the museum expansion and the school's restoration has been augmented with federal funding from the Canadian Heritage Cultural Infrastructure program, Canada Cultural Spaces and New Canada Building funds along with a Canada 150 grant. The new museum, now the called the Museum of Surrey will be a modern, lively and interactive space with the historic Anniedale School proudly sitting close by.
Anniedale School Collection, 1904–1968, Textual Records. Surrey Archives Books and Reports
Conversion to current dollars is a rough calculation as the Bank of Canada Inflation Calculator starts in 1914 we take Canadian and United States dollars at par for 1899. $750 in 1899 converts to approximately $22,400 in 2016 Canadian dollars. $660 = $19,700. Samuel H. Williamson, "Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to present," Measuring Worth, 2017. Accessed December 13, 2017. www.measuringworth.com/ppowerus/.
In September 2018 the 127 year old Anniedale School was moved from its location at Highway 15 and Highway 1 to the Museum of Surrey Heritage Campus. The Heritage School will join the 1881 Town Hall which is the oldest original town hall in existance in BC. The Heritage Campus will also contain Surrey's first settler's cabin, the Anderson Cabin.
The Heritage Campus is located in Cloverdale on the north side of Highway 1o. The Museum of Surrey will anchor the impressive cultural campus comprising the $15.7 million museum expansion, the 1912 Municipal Hall (now the Surrey Archives), the Cloverdale Library, Veteran's Square Cenotaph plus the Anderson Cabin, Anniedale School, andd the 1881 Town Hall.
The picture on the top-left is Anniedale School moving past the second school named Anniedale.
The top-right is the school moving past the 1881 Town Hall at Highway 15 and 60th Avenue.
The bottom picture is Anniedale School where it will be placed on the Heritage Campus.
The picture on the top-left is the Town Hall after the preparation prior to the move.
The picture on the right is moving the Town Hall to the Heritage Campus.