The first school, named Duhamel Creek School, was built in 1903 and as documented in the 1902-03 School Accounts Register the annual capital expenditures added up to the grand total of $128.25. There is some uncertainty as to the location of this school but in 1922 documents indicate the property at the corner of Holmberg Road and Hwy 3a was registered under The Willow Point School District at the Land Registry Office. All indications are that from there on in, the little schoolhouse was called Willow Point School.
For the next 64 years the Willow Point School was the central hub of education for children of the families living Up The Lake, until its closure in 1986. The one room school that housed grades 1 to 7 taught by a single teacher expanded to a two-room school house and eventually was annexed to AI Collinson School serving as grades 1 and 2 in the beginning and finishing its days as a kindergarten.
Enjoy the scrolling through the pictures at the left, we’ve added captions and credit the pictures to the best of our knowledge.
Many thanks to Gwen Acres for sharing her personal archives with us. Gwen’s ancestors are, among others, the Shannon and Middleton families. If anyone has memories or pictures they would like to share, please contact us.
Most reference to May Days indicate its origins to be the Celtic Festival of Beltane. It marks the beginning of summer and took place when cattle were driven out to pasture and rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people and to encourage growth. Bon fires were kindled and people would walk around and between them. All household fires would be doused and then relit from the Beltain bonfire as their flames were deemed to have protective powers. Doors, windows and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers thought to invoke fire (purification).
Maypole dancing evolved out of Pagan fertility festivals. Originally the tradition was to decorate a pole, usually birch tree with its branches removed and foliage kept on the top. Then it was decorated with garlands of flowers and leaves. Dancers circled the maypole to music provided by pipe and tabor, fiddle etc. Later ribbons were attached to the top and dancers intertwine with each other creating a complex pattern sheathing the maypole and then, reversing their steps would unwind the ribbons. 10 or more ribbons are used and there is a variety of levels of difficulty to perform the Maypole Dance. If you are interested good website that has the music and steps is: http://www.maypoledance.com/maypoledance.html
Typically there was a May Day Queen chosen. The young lady chosen was usually the most eligible spinster or the most beautiful young woman in the village. She would be crowned with flowers or greenery and treated like nobility for the day.
The Willow Point School seemed so big when I first went there in Grade One! There was no such thing as Kindergarten in those days. The school had been expanded in (1956) to two rooms; with two washrooms and a teacher staff room in between the two, with a large basement. We went to Willow Point School for grades 1 – 6, we took the school bus to town when we got to the higher grades.
Every Monday morning, we lined up outdoors (girls on one side of the row, and boys on the other side) for singing “God Save the Queen”, and one of the older kids (always a boy) was tasked with raising the Union Jack on the flagpole. (One time we came to school and there was a dead bobcat under the flagpole, probably hit by a car and it crawled up to the school grounds and died.) Once inside the school, a student was chosen to raise the windows with those long window poles, then we had to put out our hands for teachers “Health Inspection” and if we had dirty hands, we had to go and wash them and have them inspected again.
We walked to and from school. That was fun and it didn’t seem very far. My class usually consisted of five – seven kids, and it was generally the same five kids every year until we all went to town to school. During recess and lunch hour (on fair days) we went outside. Some of you will remember the orange peel/ smelly boots aroma in the cloak room. The girls skipped on the sidewalk, or we hoola-hooped, played fortune with those home made fortune telling folded things, or sometimes we went up into the hillside beside the ball diamond and picked wildflowers and milkweed. We played baseball out in the ball diamond. When the weather was terrible, we were allowed to have our breaks down in the basement, where we played tag and ping pong.
We were always a bit tense when Mr. Sargent, the school superintendent came to the school on scheduled visits. Earlier in the day, the teacher would have carefully prepped us with question and answers that she or he anticipated that Mr. Sargent would ask us. Sure enough, he would ask us a question with his English accent, and invariably it was one question that nobody had prepared for, so the poor child chosen would be mumbling, and we could see by the scowl on the teachers face that it had all gone awry.
Mrs. McLean used to host the year end school picnic up at her house. It was a beautiful home and lush gardens. It was located where Willowhaven was eventually built. The whole school (probably about 40 kids give or take) would sit on her long set of front steps for the annual school picture. I have lost my copy, and wish I had one. After Mrs. McLean left the school employment, we had the school picnics up on the flats of six mile road. We had to bring out own lunches for that, but the school provided small bottles of milk and little containers of ice cream with the wooden paddle shaped spoons.
Across from the schoolyard entrance steps was the Yaeger home. Used in the summer by the Yaeger family who lived in Spokane, and ran a funeral parlor business. They employed a Chinese caretaker/gardener whose name I can’t remember, but he was always in the traditional Chinese clothes with a very long braid down his back. He dressed in black shirts, and very baggy pants, with a black pill box type of hat. We always said hi to him and he never said hi back, just nodded to us, smiling with one gold tooth displayed in his grin.
Every year, we had track meets with Balfour, Proctor and Harrop. The schools took turn hosting the track meet. We had a school song we used to chant at the track meets “Willow Point, Willow Point… does anyone remember the rest of it?
Susan (Heddle) Durant 2014
Mid 1960’s. These were the days of blackboards and scribblers. We would have to do lines of ) ) ) ) ‘s and eeeeee’’s. If we were caught talking in class we would be startled into submission by a pointer or yardstick slamming sharply on our desk and heaven forbid that a note passing incident be discovered. I remember watching one of my classmates being wretched to the floor from her desk as the teacher grabbed her ear and twisted it. That stopped any future whispering from me!
Anyone remember the springtime blossom pictures we’d make using pink and white tissue paper crinkled on the end of a pencil and glued onto a stick tree?
Randi (Heddle) Jensen 2014