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The Development of Schools in Surrey
Early Schools to 1900

Early Surrey Schools

Clover Valley (Cloverdale) Mud Bay Hall's Prairie Kensington Prairie East Kensington Anniedale Brownsville Clayton Port Kells Surrey Centre Tynehead

Under the terms of the 1872 Public School Act, the provincial government agreed to pay for the costs of erecting and furnishing school houses in all authorized school districts. Twelve years later, school districts were divided into two categories: Rural and City. City School Districts were subsequently required to assume a portion of capital costs, and by the turn of the century the city school boards were responsible for the entire cost of school construction. Meanwhile, Rural School Districts continued to depend on the government to pay the costs of erecting and equipping schoolhouses. Many common schools, however, fell into a third category. They were designated "assisted schools", they accommodated fewer than 20 pupils each, and were usually located in remote areas. Although the salaries of teachers in assisted schools were paid by the Education Department, the local residents were responsible for building and equipping the schools.

There were four schools in existence in Surrey in the 1880s and an additional seven by the 1890s. The majority of these schools were built in farming districts. These were the areas of Surrey to first attract a degree of settlement. Each school had a separate school board, which was usually made up of parents of students in the school. Most school boards were made up of three trustees. This situation remained until 1906 when Surrey School District was formed.

Location and names of schools

Henry Thrift was instrumental in starting many of the schools in rural Surrey. When Henry, his wife and family, arrived they settled near what is now Cloverdale. Henry studied the law concerning the building of schools. He found that before a public school could be built there must be a minimum of eight pupils eligible to attend, and a petition must be forwarded to the Government in Victoria asking for a school board to be established. If granted, the Government would pay the teachers' salary but the school board would have to build the school. Henry was a moving force in starting a number of the early Surrey Schools.

A typical school

Most schools were generally one or two room rough wooden structures built by parents. They possessed oiled floors, and wooden slab desks, a hand bell, and the infamous ink well. Each building was heated by a wood or coal burning stove stationed at the back of the class. The fuel was brought by the students or their parents. Tending the fire and keeping the building clean and tidy was the responsibility of senior students. These early buildings had no electricity and at night coal-oil lamps were used to provide light. Most schools had no running water. Water was hauled to the school in milk cans by parents or students from neighbouring farms. Some schools had wells on their grounds. The water fountain was a pail and dipper. Students brought their own cups. There were no indoor washrooms and instead outhouses were used. Early schools had no gymnasiums and little sports equipment. Students had to make most of their own play things. Their physical education lessons consisted of doing stretching and bending exercises while standing next to their desks. When weather permitted, the students were allowed some time during class to play games outside.

The first five schools in Surrey were located in the agricultural lands. They were Clover Valley (Cloverdale), Mud Bay, Hall's Prairie, Kensington Prairie and East Kensington.

Clover Valley 1882: Surrey's first school

It was in July of 1882 when Henry T. Thrift and family arrived in Surrey. At the time there were only two other families living in the Clover Valley area, and according to Mr. Thrift, no time was lost in promoting the idea of a school. A public meeting convened to consider taking action to securing educational advantages for the district. In attendance were Mr. H.T. Thrift, John Oliver (later BC premier), Thomas Shannon, George Boothroyd and Abraham Huck. The meeting resulted in an application to Victoria for a school. Within a week instructions arrived on how to proceed. In accordance with these, a school meeting was held August 15, 1882, on an old cedar log lying on the side of the Old McLellan Road, east of the highway (Pacific). With due solemnity the executive of the Surrey School was elected according to the law of the land and the code of instructions issued by Authority. The new school was called Surrey. Thrift, Boothroyd and Shannon then proceeded to take possession of an old cedar shack close by, that had been the home of a Mr. Robinson, and got busy splitting cedar lumber for repairs and making necessary school equipment such as desk and benches. This first school was located in a field and set well back from the south-west corner of 176th Street and 60th Avenue near the site of the present (2009) Cloverdale Seniors' Center. There is a rock cairn on the south side of the Senior's Center in commemoration this first school site. When all was ready Miss Martha Jane Norris of Langley Prairie became the first teacher. The first class in 1882 consisted of twelve pupils, members of the Shannon, Thrift, Boothroyd, and Huck families. This school was used until the fall term of 1883.

A year later the shack became too small and in the fall of 1883, the government erected the first public school in Surrey at Clover Valley on a half–acre of land given by Joe Shannon. The name was changed from Surrey to Clover Valley. It is believed this second school was located on the south side of McLellan Road, at the top of the first hill, just west of Pratt Road (60th Ave and 180th Street) on what is now the Zion Lutheran Church property. The playground is now the site of the Lutheran School. The second teacher was Mr. R.L. Reid.

The Clover Valley name remained until 1891 when it was renamed Cloverdale Public School.

Cloverdale Public School

Picture courtesy of Jack Berry. The original is in the Surrey Archives.
This picture shows Cloverdale Public School on the site of the present Surrey Achives.

Another school was built in 1906 on the site of the 1910 Municipal Hall on the corner of New McLellan Road and King Street (Hwy #10 and 176A Street). As a result in 1909 the school was moved east onto the property near the present Cloverdale Elementary. It became known as the Cloverdale Annex used by primary grades. This move allowed the new Municipal Hall to be constructed in 1910.

Cloverdale Schools

This view, from the south in the 1920's, shows Cloverdale Public School just west of Surrey High School. The Public School served as Cloverdale's Elementary School into the 1960s. In 1965, the Cloverdale Elementary name was transferred to the old Surrey High School, which is now Cloverdale Traditional School.

A new five room Cloverdale Public School was built in 1912, with James A. Baillie the contractor. This school was located west of the gymnasium of the current Cloverdale Traditional School.

Cloverdale Traditional School 2004

The School that is currently called Cloverdale Traditional School has a long history. From 1921 to 1940 it was Surrey High School. From 1940 to 1957 it was Lord Tweedsmuir High School. From 1957 to 1965 it was Cloverdale Junior High School. From 1965 to 2003 it was Cloverdale Elementary School. After September 2003 it became Cloverdale Traditional School.

Mud Bay 1883–1921

The Mud Bay School was built in 1883 on the east side of the Semiahmoo Trail at Wade Road, (King George Highway and 44th Ave.). The building still exists as a dwelling on the east side of King George Highway at 44th Avenue. The site was chosen as students from the northern uplands (Woodward's Hill) and those of the southern uplands (Elgin, Crescent Beach) could best be served with a school mid-way across the flats.

Mud Bay School Mud Bay Home

Abram Dinsmore owned 120 acres midway between the Nicomekl and Serpentine Rivers and the family donated half an acre for the school. A contract was awarded to John Murchison, for the sum of $950 to put up a frame building 18 X 26 foot, hard finished, painted and having the usual fittings and furniture. The school was described as little and severe and had four narrow and very inadequate windows. The first teacher was Miss Archena J. McDougall. Other pioneer teachers were F.W. Templar, and Ena McDougal. Miss McDougall was also teacher–principal at the high school in Cloverdale when it was began operation in 1912.

Over the years conditions at Mud Bay School deteriorated. Demographics had changed and the majority of the students came from the south. The parents from the south wanted a new school built in a more convenient location. On June 17, 1918, the Health Inspector closed Mud Bay School for the rest of the year due to an outbreak of measles. It was closed again from Oct 22 to Nov 25, 1918, as were all Surrey Schools, due to the post-war flu epidemic.

In protest against conditions at Mud Bay School, parents withdrew their children and began home schooling. On Jan 20, 1920, Mrs. Barbara Lamb donated one acre of land for a new school at Elgin. In September 1920, Dr. Sinclair in his capacity as Health Inspector, condemned Mud Bay School and asked for it to be closed. The Board proposed that it be kept open temporarily. On April 30, 1921 money was set aside to build a new school at Elgin.

Hall's Prairie 1885: 18035 8th Avenue

Hall's Prairie Elementary Hall's Prairie 1891

This picture is of the rebuilt two–room Hall's Prairie school after the 1929 fire. The class is the 1891 class in front of the first one–room school.

Hall's Prairie school had its start, in 1884, in a log house located on the banks of Campbell River. It had been the home of the Heintz Family. Hall's Prairie was formed into a school district. The school was opened January, 1885, with 12 pupils up to grade five. John C. McLennan, a young man from Ontario, as the first teacher. In the fall of 1892, a larger one–room school was built. It was built with government funds on a site donated by Dr. Powel of Victoria, the same Campbell River Road site as the present school. The original Hall's Prairie School was dismantled and the materials went into Charlie McConkey's barn.

The 1892 school was cottage shaped (38 X 26 feet) and large enough for 40 or 50 students. Within a year or two after the school opened, Dr. Powel began to improve his land. He fenced the whole section. The school children felt quite shut in on the small school yard as they had always played ball games on the prairie west of the school. In later years this building was referred to as the annex.

Annie Waller and Linnie Lewis were the only ones listed as teachers for Hall's Prairie School for 1893–1901. Waller started March 1893. Lewis took over in January 1896 and was still there in 1901.

When the Billy Goat Came to School!. Eva Barton, Student, 1920.
From: Memories of Hall's Prairie; an elementary school cook book.

The school grounds were smaller then present, and there was quite a bit of brush on the grounds. The school yard was surrounded by a wooden board fence on the other side of which was Mr. Dunn's farm. At that time, which was about 1906, Mr. Moggridge had a number of Angora goats. On the day of this story some of the children must have been teasing one of the billy goats during recess. The children had gone back into the school house following recess. The 1884 building only had one door. Shortly after recess the billy goat butted his way through the board fence. Still not satisfied, he continued on and proceeded to butt against the one and only school room door. Inside the school pandemonium broke out.

As the goat smashed his way through the door one of the older and usually quite prim pupils, Ellen Pengelly, completely lost her composure. She headed for the only route of escape, the window. The one she had chosen had been propped open with a stick. In her undignified haste, Ellen knocked out the supporting stick bringing the window down across her back and pinning her down, head on the outside and her bottom half left kicking on the inside. Bill Barton did not remember how the goat got out, or for that matter how Ellen got out, but to this day my father can remember quite clearly that Ellen's undergarments were made of a fine quality of flour sacking and that they were a blue and white check.

A new two room school with a basement was built in 1921. This school was destroyed by fire in 1929.

The Fire! Bernice (Barton) Howard–Gibbons, Student 1936–1944.
From: Memories of Hall's Prairie; an elementary school cook book.

The 1921 two–room school burned down in 1929. It was the winter and the pipes had frozen. While the caretaker was attempting to thaw the pipes with a blowtorch, something ignited and the school caught on fire. A call to the Fire Department was put through from the nearest telephone. The Fire Department was in Cloverdale which is a considerable distance.

Bill Lawrence was a member of the Volunteer Fire Department. Accordingly, when the call came they sprang to action and set off for Hall's Prairie School; the fire truck towing behind it a large water tank. This was necessary in those days as there was often no nearby supply of water. Riding astride the water tank was Bill. The fire truck, traveling full speed ahead, hadn't gone very far down the road when the water tank came unhooked. The tank continued on its own, careening along the highway. Bill quickly sized up the situation and decided his chances would be better if he and the tank parted company. Bill jumped off, sliding on the seat of his pants for some distance along the icy road; the tank crashed into the ditch! The fire truck never did get to the school, and, no other water being available, Hall's Prairie School burned down.

In 1930 the present two–room school with a full basement was built. Before the gym was built, there were separate girls and boys play areas on the ground floor of the building. Throughout the dreary and wet winter months, the basement was the refuge of most of the kids in the school.

Halls Prairie grade 5 and 6, 1946–1947

This Hall's Prairie photo is from 1946–1947 with grades 5 and 6 with Mr. Stan Mills as teacher. The next year Mr. Mills was at Semiahmoo teaching grade 7 and 8 math. He was Ron Murphy's homeroom teacher.

Grade 2 1945

By 1945 the increased student enrollment at White Rock Public School saw a portion of the primary students transported to Hall's Prairie to use the old one–room annex. This picture is a 1945–46 grade one–two class drawn from students in the East White Rock and Sunnyside areas. The author, Jack Brown, is in this class.

Hazelmere United Church Annex

By 1948 the population pressure on Hall's Prairie was eased with the opening of Crescent Park (1948), Ray Shepherd (1949), and Sunnyside (1949). As a result, in 1948, that 1898 building referred to as The Annex was sold to Hazelmere United Church to be used as their Church Hall. The building is still in use and is in very good condition.

Halls Prairie Elementary 2004

In 1957 a new classroom and activity room was built, but by 1959 that activity room had to be converted into a classroom. In 1961 the ground level four–room school with an office was built. In the 1960's the covered walk ways and outbuildings were built. This picture is of Hall's Prairie in 2004.

Kensington Prairie 1887–1914: 16824 32nd Avenue

In Kensington Prairie the first elementary school classes were held in Thomas Fallowfield's house, on the north-west corner of Coast Meridian Road and Brown Road (168th Street and 32nd Ave.) The first actual school building was built in 1887, on land donated by Edward Parr, on the corner of Mud Bay Road and Coast Meridian Road, (40th Ave., and 168th Street). This was a one–room school house with four rows of seats that held 20 to 30 students. It was supplied with drinking water by a barrel which caught rain water coming off the roof and was heated in winter with a cast iron stove burning cord wood.

Some of the early school teachers were: M.J. Matheson (1887), E.E. Morrison (1888), and Minnie Allan (1889). The school was opened in 1888 with 12 students attending, by 1889 attendance had increased to 15, and by 1890 the total enrollment reached 28. By 1890, the school still had one teacher by the name of Mary McDowell, who received a monthly salary of $50.

Kensington Prairie Class of 1896 1896 Class names

Picture Courtesy of The Surrey Story by G. Fern Treleaven 1978 p32

The semi–annual examinations were held in New Westminster. This pass was the standard required for admission to High School. After eight years of Kensington Prairie Elementary school, students could go to the high school in New Westminster until the first secondary school was opened in Cloverdale in 1912.

Classes were held on the school's first site until 1914, but it was becoming far to crowded and was flooded regularly. Land was purchased on the corner of Brown Road and Coast Meridian Road, (32nd Ave., and 168th Street). This is the schools last location.

Kensington Prairie

The new school had two–rooms and local stone was used for a strong foundation. This original building is still part of the school today. In 1914 the school was heated with a heater in each room and one in the hall. 1946 was a big year as electric power was brought in.

The number of students increased steadily and by 1956 a separate three–room annex was built. It contained a separate staff-room, kitchen, medical room and also a new office. Around 1967–68 a gym was added. In 1971 a portable, single–room annex was brought in. In 1972 a new library was added.

Kensington Prairie closed in June 2006. Students from Kensington Prairie joined those from Grandview Elementary in a new school, Pacific Heights Elementary, at 17148 26th Avenue. Both schools were aging, had declining enrollments, had little or no room to expand, and had heavy traffic volumes on surrounding roads.

East Kensington 1899: 2795 184th Street

East Kensington 1892

The first East Kensington School was a 10 X 12 X 7 foot abandoned shack left on the site by the Royal City Mills Logging Co., in 1898-99. The parents of the area improved and maintained the school as the government's responsibility was limited to paying the teacher's salary. About a dozen students were taught by the school's first teacher Miss Phoebe McInnis, then 16 years old.

In 1918 a second room was added. However, in 1923 the school burned down. In 1924 the current building at 2795 184th Street was built. Later additions included a second building, a gym, an office and a library.

East Kensington 2005

In 2002 East Kensington School was given heritage status. The name for the 2004–05 school became East Kensington Heritage Elementary.

Unlike Grandview and Kensington Prairie, East Kensington was not been slated for closure. East Kensington remains open and has been seismically upgraded. It is true that this school's enrollment has declined (despite a District Heritage School program designation) but the Board did not decide to close it.

By 1891 six new schools had come into existence;
Anniedale, Brownsville, Clayton, Port Kells, Surrey Centre, and Tynehead.

Anniedale School 1891–1954: 9744 176th Street

Anniedale School was originally located on Townline Road near Hall's Prairie Road (96th Ave. and 182th Street). The school was built by Sam Edge of Hammond, BC for a total price of $750 for a complete school. It was built on one–acre of land donated by a pioneer and in remembrance the school was to be named Annie for the daughter of Elizabeth Wilhelmin Pooley. See Anniedale school naming The school opened on July 15, 1891. In the first year, the one-room school had thirteen pupils, ranging in age from four years old to about fifteen, and grades from one through eight. Its first teacher was Mr. Duncan J. Welsh of Milner. Students began at such a young age as numbers were important. If 8 or more students attended the Government would pay the teacher's salary but the residents would have to provide the school.

Anniedale School 1899 Anniedale School

The picture on the left is Anniedale School in 1899. The teacher is Jessie Inglis with the class of 1899. Pupils came to Anniedale School from the general Port Kells area, and as far away as Latimer Road and Barnston Island. The original Anniedale School closed in 1954 when the new Anniedale opened on 176th Street at 96th Ave.

For about 20 years the old school lay vacant and was only occasionally used as a community hall. The building was in disrepair and in danger of being torn down. In the spring of 1975 it was decided that the old school should be moved to the site of the new school where security, heat and light were readily available. This project involved fund–raising, obtaining ownership from the Department of Highways, moving the school, setting it up and restoring it. The heritage building would then be turned over to the Surrey School Board who would maintain it as a museum. The building is a historic study centre and is available at no charge for use by grade five students as part of their Surrey History unit.

Anniedale Traditional 2004

The new Anniedale opened in 1954 at the edge of the Highway #1 and Highway #15 (96th Avenue and 176th Street). The original Anniedale school was also moved to this site. In September 1999 the new Anniedale School was designated a Traditional School. This picture is of Anniedale Traditional School in 2004. The school is located near the interchange of Hwy 15 and Hwy 1. It is plaqued with access problems due to the heavy traffic. Plans in 2009 are to sell or close the school and move the student population to neighbouring schools. The fate of the 1891 Anniedale school has not been determined.

Brownsville 1891

Brownsville School developed with the completion of the New Westminster Southern Railway. Located at the end of Yale Road, Semiahmoo Road, and Scott Road, the Brownsville community was a hive of business activity. Brownsville School was built on Old Yale Road across from where St. Helen's Church now stands. It was a one-room school with grades from one to eight. With the opening of the New Westminster Rail Bridge in 1904, Brownsville declined in importance. The school closed and students were accommodated in South Westminster School.

Brownsville School

This picture was taken before the turn of the century. The year is unknown but the teacher's name was Mr. Canfield. The Brownsville School was located on Old Yale Road. The school building was converted to a residence. 128th Street was not put through at the time the school was built, but when it was finally put through the location address became 10845 – 128th Street.

Clayton 1891: 7541 184th Street

Clayton's first school was a log house school and the teacher was unpaid as not enough students attended. It was a homesteaders' log cabin located on the east side of Hall's Prairie Road across the road from the current Clayton Elementary. It consisted of one–room, seven logs high, a door of split cedar boards, a window facing the road and a back door to the wood–pile.

In 1891 Clayton's new one–room school opened. (Clayton now has two schools) The first teacher was John A. McLean of Cloverdale. There were 15 students; 5 boys and 10 girls. In 1904 Clayton had its first lady teacher, Janie Magee. In 1914, Harold Freeman was the school master but he went overseas during World War I and did not return. In 1915, Miss Smith is in charge of the school, she is followed by Margaret Mann and later by Miss Grace Andrews.

Clayton Elementary Clayton Elementary 2004

In 1921, Clayton opens a new two-room school with Mr. Richard Sloss, Principal and Miss Beth James, Primary. The old 1891 school is closed and demolished.

Clayton Elementary 1941–1942 Grades 1&2

Grades 1&2 1941–42

Teacher is Miss Wright

  • Front row left – Ron Murphy
  • Second row – end of row right is Frances Murphy
  • Third row – end of row right is Manfed Butler

Clayton Elementary 1942–1943 Grades 1&2

Grades 1&2 1942–43
  • Front row center – Charlie Pearce
  • Top row left is Ron Murphy, 5th from left is Manfried Butler

East Clayton Elementary, 18680 – 72nd Avenue, opened in 1971. It became a Primary school enrolling Kindergarten to grade three. Clayton became an intermediate school enrolling grades four to seven.

East Clayton is being considered for closure as of June 30, 2009. A new school Hazelgrove Elementary, at 190th Street and 70th Avenue, is slated to open in September of 2009 and could accommodate the students.

Port Kells 1891: 19076 88th Avenue

The original Port Kells' school was opened August 8, 1891. It was built on the Telegraph Trail but by mistake within the boundaries of Langley. It was located on the ridge of the hill slightly south and west of the corner of what is now 204th Street and 96th Avenue. One of the early teachers was a Miss Speirs, who later became Mrs. Fyfe. Some of the early pupils of this school were from the Kells, McClughan, Page, and Yeoman families.

Port Kells students 1910

When the present Port Kells School was first opened in 1909, it was called Springdale School. It was established on its present site, 19076 – 88th Ave., as there were more children in that area than where the first school was built. An addition was added in 1932. This is the school enrollment in 1910, the year it opened as Springdale.

Port Kells Elementary 1945–46 Grade 1&2

Grades 1&2 1945–46

Teacher Miss Terpstra?

  • Second row ___?, ___?, Gwen Murphy, ___?, ___?, ? Perka, Regina Perka, Lois Loney
  • Third row left Neal

Port Kells Elementary 1943–44 Grades 1&2

Grades 1&2 1943–44

Teacher Miss Stokes

  • Front row Elaine Johns, May Millar?, ___?, Miss Stokes, Leona Hornby, Marlene___?, Kathleen Murphy
  • Second row left Justin___?
  • Third row 4th Gordon Fallowfield
  • Fourth row 3rd Teddy___?

Port Kells Elementary 1944–1945 Grades 1&2

grades 1&2 1944–45

Teacher Miss Stokes

  • Front row 6th Justin
  • Second row ___?, Gwen Murphy, Kathleen Murphy, ___?, Betty Ann Webster, ___?, Elaine Johns, Lois Loney
  • Third row 4th Leona Hornby, Loretta___?
  • Fourth row ___?, Gordon Fallowfield, ___? Teddy

Port Kells Elementary 1945–46 Grade 3,4&5

Grades 3–5 1945–46

Teacher Mrs. Rose Allison

  • Top row third from the left Ted Worsley
  • Forth row from the left Ron Murphy, Gordon Fallowfield
  • Third row Joseph Thomas McKee, Edna___? ___?Sandvy, 5th girl Louise___?, 2nd from right Ester___?
  • Second row 2nd girl Barbara Thompson, Kathleen Murphy, ___?, Kathleen Ostakoff, ___?, Elaine Johns, ___?
  • Front row center is Bobby Lowry

Port Kells elementary 1944–45 Grades 4&5

Grades 6&7 1946–47

Teacher Miss Walters

  • Top row left Frank___?, Raymond___?, end of row ___?Sandvy
  • Third row 2nd Colin(Gordon?)Hambergler, 8th Joan Holland, Mickey Jones, Bruno___?
  • Second row kneeling Eugene Chenasik, Jean Purcha, Sandra Sandvy, 7th Doreen Boyes
  • Front row 2nd Bobby Lowery, 4th Edward Evient, 6th Albert Worsley, Ron Murphy

Port Kells Elementary 1951

This is Port Kells Elementary in September 1955 with young Lorne Adamson standing in front of the flag pole. This picture was taken just before the addition was built.

Port Kells Elementary 2004 Port Kells Elementary 2004

Port Kells grade 7 1957

This is the grade four class from 1957, the teacher is Mr. Gilbert.

Gail Hyndman was a student at Port Kells Elementary from 1953 to 1959. She has provided her reminisces of those years at Port Kells.
I was a student at Port Kells Elementary many (about 50!!) years ago – from 1953 to 1959. When I started school there in Grade One (there was no kindergarten in the school at that time) there were only three rooms and in those three rooms there were eight grades (I understand that originally there had been only two rooms). Mrs Pepper (as I recall, a truly formidable lady) was Principal. The school was painted grey with white trim (like all the elementary schools in Surrey at the time).
I was one of the first of the "baby boomer" group of children (those born shortly after World War 2) to go through the school and there were so many of us that by the time I was in Grade Two we were attending school in shifts. Half the school started school at 8 AM and finished at 12 Noon and the other half started at 12:30 PM and finished at 4:30 PM. The poor teachers didn't get much of a break!
By the time I was in Grade Five (1958) the two flat–roofed classrooms room and an activity room were added at the left side of the school (when you are facing the school) and at last there was an electric bell instead of the handbell we had previously taken turns ringing. Grade Six was the last year of elementary school at that time, though that changed soon after I left). We went off by bus, to junior high school at the newly opened Johnston Heights Junior High School for Grade Seven. Just as a note here, Johnston Heights JHS was considered a very attractive building at the time, with a very large and somewhat impressive mural painted on a wall in the inner courtyard – we were told that the school had been the recipient of some sort of architectural award.
Back to PK Elementary – There were no white boards in those days, only dusty blackboards. We hated being board monitors because we cleaned the brushes by banging them together – it made great clouds of chalk dust. In the old part of the school, as was common then, the desks were bolted to rails on the floor in rows, so you couldn't move them around and the floors themselves were oiled wood and had a warm inviting smell to them. The desks had a round hole in the right hand corner so we could put our inkwells in them, but I think by the time I was in Grade Four we were using fountain pens instead of straight pens.
Teachers I had: Grade One was Miss Tamiko Kawasi – the gold medal winner at Normal School (in those days that was what they called the teacher training college) the year before – she was an absolute jewel of a teacher and she was largely responsible for my subsequent enjoyment of school and learning. Others I remember: Mrs Ash (a local Port Kells lady – her son Jimmy was in the class) also Mr Gilbert and Mr Dunkley, as well as a Mr Capel, who still suffered terribly from wounds he had received in WWII, to name some.
One of the highlights of each school year occurred in June when the Rose Queen and her attendants were chosen from the oldest class for a Port Kells event called the Rose Carnival. There was a parade consisting of the 'royal party' (including Miss Canada!) and the local scout troop. The parade started from the old post office where the postmistress Mrs. Preedy, a local lady, always made the crown and bouquets (of roses, of course) in her living room and wound up (all of about 300 feet!) at the Community Hall where the Queen was crowned. This was followed by a concert featuring songs and skits (the old silhouettes of doctors behind a sheet pulling odd things out of a patient routine comes to mind) by the students as well as others in the community.
Other memories of my days at Port Kells Elementary: Sports Day behind the school – parents were invited and a picnic was held at the same time – popular events were the three-legged race, egg and spoon race, the sack race and the slow bicycle race down the road to the cafe´┐Ż and back to the school – the last one to make it back was the winner! (cyclists couldn't stop – you couldn't even touch the ground with your feet at all – obviously traffic wasn't a problem in those days!)
And oh yes, the goat in the door field next door – it would eat ANYTHING we gave it. Recess and lunch in the basement (do kids still go down there?) it was dark, damp and dingy, but the alternative for many years was standing outside in the rain; softball was fun ('though waiting to be picked for anything other than fielder was an absolute agony). This was played in the field at the side of the school (next to the goat). We played marbles and hopscotch and skipping games that had songs to go with them. We played Red Rover, Go, Go, Stop, Mother–May–I and Crack–the–Whip and something quite strange, in hindsight – a game we girls would play called movie tars.
Memories also of 1956 when the school received a handful of refugee children after the Hungarian revolution - it was our job as kids to teach the new kids English (though I'm sure the teachers had something to do with it!).
Gail Spanier (nee Hyndman) now works in a high school in Perth, Western Australia, in an Intensive English Centre, teaching English to refugee kids – this time from Sudan, in East Africa. October 2006

Port Kells grades5-6 1959

This is the grade 5/6 class from 1959, the teacher is Mr. Myers who was also the Principal at the time.
These are the names on the back of Port Kells school photo Gr 5/6 Div 1 1959 taken in front of the activity room of the new classroom block. Photography studio: Garner's Studio, 15536 Columbia Ave. White Rock

Surrey Centre 1891: 10929 160th Street

In 1891 with the growth of young families in the Surrey Centre district a one-room Surrey Centre School was opened. This was built on the site where the Christ Church/Surrey Centre cemetery is located across the street from the present school. It had a very small school yard, about half an acre. Classes began August 10, 1891. Eighteen farm kids aged from five to fourteen learned the 3 R's from their first teacher, Miss Martha McDowell. The school was described as being similar to Anniedale Elementary which still stands at 176th Street and Hwy No.1.

Surrey Centre School 1891

This is the 1891 Surrey Centre one-room school. In the early years the water for the school was not taken from the well in the school yard. Some parents claimed that the school well was too close to the graves in the nearby cemetery, and that there might be danger of contamination of the ground water. There was an outhouse in each corner of the school yard, one for the girls and one for the boys.

There was bush to the west of the school for a short distance, then the grounds of Christ Church and the cemeteries. The school was heated by a big old stove, which used blocks of wood. A chore assigned to the older boys was to bring in the wood from the woodshed, before school and at noon hour.

Across the road were the Municipal Hall and its grounds (until 1912). All four acres were cleared later when it became the Surrey Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds were the school children's playground at noon hour during good weather.

Surrey Centre Elementary

In 1939–40 the school expanded into the three-room Fairground buildings across the street from the first school. It was a two room building, with space for grades one to three, and grades four to six, plus a teacher's room. A gym was added later.

Surrey Centre grades 4-6 c1941

This is a picture of the 1941–42 class in front of the two room school. This is the intermediate class, grades 4 to 6. Roger Bose is in the front row on the far left, and his twin Bob Bose is the fourth from the left in the front row.

When the school moved to a new 1949 building, the old school became the school board administration office and the gym a maintenance work shop.

By 1949 school enrollment had increased to 144 and as a result, on December 14, 1949, a new four room school Surrey Centre was officially declared open. At that time the lower level was used as a basement for indoor play and the school had an attached gymnasium. An Addition of two classrooms was added in the early 1960s.

In early 2000 the school had grown to 269 students with 11 classes from Kindergarten to Grade 7. Growing parental and staff concerns with over–crowding, health issues, efficiency and seismic safety spurred a lobby to get a new school built. As a result, construction of a new facility began in December 2002 and opened in 2003. The fourth Surrey Centre School opened to; 400 students in 16 classrooms, a full–sized gym, library, and several special education rooms. Eight more classrooms will be added in the future. The former school site will become the playground and sports field.

Surrey Centre Elementary 2004

Surrey Centre Elementary 2004

Tynehead 1891 to 2004: 8820 168th Street

The original Tynehead School built on one-half acre granted by William Bothwell, was located on the southwest corner of Townline and Coast Meridian Roads (96th Avenue and 168th Street). This typical one–roomed, white, wooden schoolhouse was 18 X 26 feet and was publicly owned. The first teacher was Martin J. Ravey.

Tynehead School 1891

This is the first Tynehead School built about 1891. Some of Tynehead's first pupils went on to obtain teacher's certificates and returned to Surrey to serve the community. Jessie Inglis, Laura and Daisy Davis, Ellen Bournes, Mildred Lyness are a few to appear in Surrey School's annual reports.

This same school served the Tynehead community for divine worship until a church was built in 1903. The school also served as a community hall for community social functions until the present community hall was constructed in 1907.

Tynehead School 1908

The second Tynehead School was built in 1908, on one acre granted by James Bothwell at its present site, one mile south of the first Tynehead School. For several years both schools operated with fluctuating enrollment. For most years both schools ran all eight grades.

In 1923 an additional room had been added on the north side of the present Tynehead School. In addition, the existing building was raised to provide a basement for storage of firewood and for a play area. This basement was also used for manual training until the late 1930s.

Tynehead Elementary 2004
Tynehead Elementary 2004

Tynehead Elementary was designated a Montessori School in the 1990s. It was formally closed in June of 2004. The school and property was sold by the District in December 2004 and today operates as a private religious school.


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