Metchosin’s Past

The Rocky Point school was one of the early Metchosin icon's.

The hundreds of acres at Rocky Point were farmed by the earliest settlers to Metchosin district.

The little one-room school house built on the property was yellow with red trim and sat in the middle of a field. Opened in 1889 to educate the growing number of families nearby, it periodically closed due to a lack of children, during which time students travelled to schools in East Sooke or Metchosin for grades 1 to 8.

Many of the Rocky Point school teachers boarded at the home of Charles and Hannah Ball. The teachers earned $50 per month, from which $15 was taken for board. This included laundering and ironing starched petticoats and collars. Often, Mrs. Ball’s Victorian nieces and nephews came to board in order to maintain the required enrolment to keep the school open.

As a trustee, Charles Ball kept a vigilant eye on the operation of the school and the teachers. In the annual school report for 1897, it was written that Mr. Ball visited the school 11 times, whereas the other trustees; Mr. Thos. Parker and Mr. J.D. Reid, visited only once.

One male teacher came under strict scrutiny for his manner of dress, and his general approach to teaching left much to be desired, in Mr. Ball’s opinion. One day Ball entered this teacher’s classroom unannounced to find him at his desk with his hat on! At the end of the term, when one of the younger Ball girls successfully passed her entrance exams, her father politely told this instructor that no credit was due to his teaching efforts.

Mr. Parker Shelton, the teacher in 1897, reported that the school’s equipment included eight blackboards measuring nine feet by four feet. Questioned how often a globe was used in giving instruction, he wrote:  “Have used a large round turnip for a globe.”

Many of the Rocky Point children attended Sunday religious lessons at the school, conducted by Mr. & Mrs. John Dunlop Reid. One student recalled the interesting way in which Bible lessons were taught, noting that many of the verses began with each of the letters of the alphabet.

At the end of each year, examinations were held and a picnic for all pupils was organized, with Mr. & Mrs. Reid providing all the goodies.

Having been closed for 25 years, there were enough children to re-open Rocky Point School in September 1940. In the ensuing eight years, five different teachers taught at the school.

Rather than addressing their instructors as Miss or Mr. so-and-so, students were required to simply call them “teacher.”

One past student wrote down his memories of his teachers:

“Miss Phyllis Moon with the ruler always at the ready for conducting music or administering discipline. (1941-43)

Miss Pratt about 6’ tall and about 60 years old. She was from the Prairies and seemed to catch colds a lot and hence a school holiday, yea! yea! (1943)

Mrs. Large 4’6” tall and also 60 years old, who introduced us to the French Language and had a Sunday school on Sunday afternoon for a month or so (1944-45)

Miss Clara Evelyn Esler just graduated from teacher training and came from Grenfell, Sask. (1945/46)

Miss Beryl Pitt the last teacher and the last year of the existence of Rocky Point School.”

In the 1950’s the federal government expropriated the land for the Department of National Defence, thereby ending an era that saw the early education of three generations of successful farmers.

•               •                •

The School Museum, in the old Metchosin schoolhouse on Happy Valley Road near Metchosin Road, opens for the summer this Saturday (April 18) from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Behind the fire hall, the Pioneer Book Barn is open Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. We welcome your donation of used books to help maintain the Museum Society’s preservation of Metchosin’s heritage.

Wendy Mitchell is president of the Metchosin Museum Society. She can be reached with story ideas at wendyncmitchell@shaw.ca.

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