The bell clangs and the children rush to class. First opened in 1855 to the growing community at the Craigflower Farm, the first 26 eager students had a bright future. Education was a cornerstone in their development to help them become the future leaders and skilled tradespeople that helped to foment the city we live in today. And the indelible marks they have all created are still found all around us.
Thank you for joining us once again today as we take you inside the wonderful heritage facility called the Craigflower Schoolhouse, a wonderful National Historic Site that is carefully and lovingly managed and maintained by the people working at TLC The Land Conservancy of BC.
Back in simpler times when entertainment was sparse and the children had to create their own form of fun, classes like this were filled with young boys whose prime focus was on collecting tadpoles and dipping the girls’ hair in the ink wells, and young girls focused on playing with their dolls and setting up house. Much of this seems to be lost in today’s modern times and it is always such a treat to have a chance to transport yourself back in time by visiting wonderful facilities like the schoolhouse. Basic comforts were attended to with things such as candles for light and fires for warmth. There was no electricity, so classes were taught by the flickering light as the inquisitive young minds soaked up the lessons of the day.
Having a chance to photograph such a wonderful and important place in our community was something we did with joy and reverence. This was definitely an experience we will never forget. As we explored the school, almost like excited children ourselves, we found item after item that expressed the true character of the times they lived in. This piano, for example, was constructed of the most beautiful and finely crafted wood, full of intricate details that really express the sense of pride and craftsmanship that went into creating it.
All the wonderful woodwork, evident in both the benches here as well as the wood flooring, helps to create a feeling of warmth and comfort to the room. Children aged from 4 to 16 sat in these very benches as the lessons were shared and exams written. Times were less complicated, and in many cases more difficult, but this surely did not dampen the excitement the children had in learning about the new world in which they found themselves.
What once were items used to deliver the class lessons today are items that hold our attention and imagination, desperately trying to imagine what life must have been like those many years ago. What sights have these spectacles seen? What were the children doing when this wonderful old bell was rung in an effort to gain their attention and bring their focus back to the tasks at hand? Perhaps these are all questions that will forever remain unanswered, but there is great beguilement to be found in exploring and questioning.
As we look over the sea of desks we see the entry door, a storage closet and the authentic old fireplace. At first glance the viewer is struck by the wonderful character that can be found here, but a question soon begins to pester you… are these lines straight? Closer scrutiny reveals that indeed, they are not. This is a direct result of this old school being built atop a shell midden which undoubtedly accounts for some of the settling over the years. These wonderfully quirky angles also serve to create some interesting natural character that can only be found in buildings of this genre.
Winters can be cold and dreary in the western part of Canada with months on end of dark, grey skies pouring their hearts down upon the residents below. A fireplace is a critical element that produces heat and dries the room and air, and also serves as a comfortable place to gather. These wonderful bricks are beautiful in their own right, perfectly accented here by the simple yet elegant wood mantle that adorns them.
These wonderful old books were really great details to find on our adventure. You can almost hear the giggles of the school children as they go about their day of learning. Whose little fingers used these books all those years ago? I certainly remember some of the school books I had when I was growing up, the feel of the paper and the smell of the book still quite alive in my mind today. These are all special memories that help make me the person I am.
As we make our way to the kitchen in the back of the schoolhouse, we pass through this old wooden door. You just don’t see doorknobs like this these days, and it is this attention to detail that really offers a genuine experience of visiting another time. And once again, the natural weathering here is really part of the remnants of those who once thrived and lived here. Each mark, each bit of wear, all tell their own story.
All the displays in the schoolhouse museum are authentic and tangible. We find that being residents of the 21st century has dulled some of our recollections in regards to certain aspects of our past, and having a chance to visit a place like this really brings all these memories back. The people who worked so hard and toiled in a new and unforgiving land would be delighted to know that we all pause and remember them. This is truly part of the legacy that they have all left behind.
Nary a straight line exists in the schoolhouse, and we’ve tried to capture this essence in our photography but it’s very difficult to translate this to an image. The more time you spend exploring the facility, the more secrets it reveals. Without a doubt, this was an absolutely magical time we had photographing this place and if you are near to the Victoria area yourself, we can think of no better way for you to spend an afternoon.
We are just in the midst of running a fundraising campaign here at The Hollow with the great folks at The Land Conservancy of BC. Our Green Heart Challenge page outlines our initiative on behalf of TLC and we wholeheartedly encourage everyone to pop by and give what you can. No amount is too small as TLC strives to continue to maintain and serve our community, please give what you can today.
Thank you for visiting us and joining us as we explore this great facility. We have one more post coming in the next few days that will take us upstairs in the schoolhouse here to explore the living quarters. If you’ve been following along and enjoying this series so far, you won’t want to miss that!
Please feel free to leave us any comments that you may have as we always love to hear from all our visitors. Now, grab your books and head for school!… you don’t want to be late!