Before 1946, our area’s elementary schools were managed by local folk who took responsibility to keep the schools running. After the Cameron Report of 1946, all that changed.
Consolidated school districts were set up throughout the province – Sooke became School District No. 62, Victoria became District No. 61, and Saanich became District No. 63, and so on throughout the province.
The districts were set up to contribute to the cost of the schools of the future, as when the men returned from the war, the population began to increase dramatically.
The photo shown is from the 1970s, and we’re hoping that printing this might spur the memories of folks who could help with the exact year and maybe other information as well.
We haven’t identified the gentleman standing at the left. Still, we believe the next is Ernest Hyndman, district superintendent at the time, then trustees Bob Anderson and Bill Stephenson, both Sooke boys. Next is trustee Alan Littler of Metchosin, and then Ross Payne, who was the maintenance supervisor.
The front row starts with a woman whose name is commemorated in Langford; she is trustee Isabelle Reader, for whom the Isabelle Reader Theatre is named. Next are trustees Howard Drummond and Fred Willway, both elected in the Western Communities. Les Wheeldon, the board’s secretary-treasurer, is next followed by Sooke trustee Ron Fitton, who served on the board for many years.
When the Sooke School District was set up, two trustees from the Sooke area, one from Port Renfrew and four from the inner area, now called the Western Communities.
You might wonder why Port Renfrew, reachable only by boat at the time, was included, but it was simple: the forest resource revenues of the San Juan Valley would contribute to the cost of schools that would need to be built in Langford and Colwood.
Going back to the initial formation of the Sooke School District in 1946, it was Myrtle Pedneault of Shirley District who we believe was first elected a trustee. Her daughter, Pat Brooks, recalls that Myrtle would stop on her way to Colwood meetings to pick up Fred Thornber, the other local trustee. The representative from Port Renfrew was Violet Davidson. Please contact us email@example.com with corrections or additions. We would welcome the help.
Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum. Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.