If you were to describe a school in contemporary language, you would undoubtedly use words that together paint a very different picture than if you were to ask someone from a hundred years ago to do the same.  Gigantic, multi-storied buildings that house hundreds of students every day, with miles of endless corridors dotted with a multitude of doors, each leading to rooms filled with all manner of  modern gizmo to help young minds feed themselves the information that they will need to navigate the rest of their lives.   Slate tablets have long ago given way to super computers and the internet, allowing students today to ponder and explore the universe in a way that would have been inconceivable to their school mates of yesteryear.  And yet, even in those days of comparatively primitive tools, great scholars and scientists emerged, distinguished musicians and actors were shaped, fine poets and writers flourished, and young, creative minds blossomed and grew.

Metchosin Schoolhouse - Metchosin, BC, Canada

Metchosin Schoolhouse – Metchosin, BC, Canada

With one classroom, one teacher and ten children, Metchosin Schoolhouse opened it’s doors for the very first time in 1872.  Sitting among acres of farmland, it was the first school built in British Columbia after confederation.  It remained in use until 1914, re-opened again in 1942 and then closed its doors as a school for good in 1949.  It is now a museum, home to one of the most complete collections of school records and artifacts from its school days, as well as some that have found their way there through donations through the years from some of the founding families of the area.  Additional information can be found at this interesting site: HeritageBC Stops.

Metchosin Schoolhouse - Metchosin, BC, Canada

Metchosin Schoolhouse – Metchosin, BC, Canada

Mrs. Elizabeth Fisher moved here from England with her husband, as many of the early pioneers did during the mid 1800’s.  Having graduated as a teacher in England, she was offered the position and became the first teacher at the new school.   She and her two daughters lived in the quarters provided for them at the school and her husband brought them supplies every week from Victoria.  Eventually they bought land in Metchosin and established a farm where she remained until she died in 1918.  More information about Elizabeth Fisher and her family, written by her granddaughter, can be found here: Metchosin School Museum Society.

Metchosin Schoolhouse - Metchosin, BC, Canada

Metchosin Schoolhouse – Metchosin, BC, Canada

Now when I was growing up, the classroom looked very different to this one.  We did not have to rely on a wood stove to keep the often brutal Canadian winters at bay.  I would imagine there were more than a few days that chattering teeth and frozen toes were part of the curriculum at this little country school!  Where once little faces stared wide-eyed at the chalk board learning math and ABC’s,  faded photographs now keep vigil over the quiet classroom,  a silent reminder of those that filled these walls with life and laughter throughout the years.

Metchosin Schoolhouse - Metchosin, BC, Canada

Metchosin Schoolhouse – Metchosin, BC, Canada

This room, once sparsely populated with a few pieces of furniture and ten little bodies, is now home to a wonderful collection of antiquated treasure just begging to be explored.  Hours could pass unnoticed as you take in each object and come to realize that they are not just things, but pieces of a puzzle that together tell the story of a place and its people.

Metchosin Schoolhouse - Metchosin, BC, Canada

Metchosin Schoolhouse – Metchosin, BC, Canada

This particular photograph of a very handsome Mrs. Elizabeth Fisher still sits among her teaching tools, allowing her the perfect vantage point to ensure that any visiting children abide by her classroom rules and mind their lessons!

Metchosin Schoolhouse - Metchosin, BC, Canada

Metchosin Schoolhouse – Metchosin, BC, Canada

And judging by the ornaments kept visibly on her desk, the rules were most definitely enforced if and when one should entertain the idea of dipping neighbouring pigtails in the inkwell or slipping a bemused toad into an unsuspecting pocket!

As the world slowly and inevitably changes around us, it becomes ever more important to be able to reach back in time, to place our fingerprints on top of those of our ancestors and to stand in their footprints.   To bring the important lessons that they impart on us forward, ensuring that the future is built on the solid foundation that was provided to us by those courageous enough, and luckily just foolish enough, to leave the comforts and familiarity of their homes to face the perils of an often relentless sea and sail off into the unknown.

Join us again as we take a closer look at some of the artifacts and documents left behind by those who breathed life into the stories.  A veritable mish-mash of every conceivable item, there is sure to be a little something for everybody as we explore this fascinating little schoolhouse in more detail.

Thanks so much for stopping by today, and please do leave any comments or thoughts you may have as we always love to hear from everyone.

Until next time!

Warmly,

Mrs. Toad




  1. avatar Jim Denham says:

    Wow! What a wonderful trip back in time Mrs. Toad, and to think that some of the kids that learned from this type of schooling were just as capable as the kids of today – makes one think there’s more to teaching and learning than the money spent and the tools used! The feel of community is SO present here – the teacher moving to the schoolhouse showed a committment not only to the job, but to the people she taught. Very much a different time and place! Thank you so much for taking us back there and I eagerly look forward to examing some of the relics you show us in the coming posts!

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments Jim! It really is a wonderful community built on cooperation and friendship right from the start. It was interesting that she was married and a teacher as most of the teachers from that time here on the Island were single. It could not have been easy for their family making that trip once a week from Victoria and living apart. Thanks again for stopping by!

  2. What a great picture this paints Mrs. Toad. The Primary school I attended until the tender age of 11 had 3 classrooms with 2 age groups to each but we did have paper to write on…
    Great set of images and emotive words.

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Thank you Chris, how wonderful it must have been for you to know all of the other kids in your tiny school, these days there can be hundreds of students! Thanks so much for sharing your comments today!

  3. Seems like a nice place. However, pretty old school(pun intended) style of interpretation. It seems as if the school/museum struggles to define itself as either an old school house where kids/visitors can come participate or as a collection of items for looking at only. Is this a small local museum run primarily by volunteers I’m guessing?

    In my real life away from the camera, I manage a history museum as well. I have a 1900-1915 old school on the property and we interpret it quite differently!

    Regardless, nice job in sharing the images, it’s always neat to see how other places interpret the past.

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Haha! I see you have a sense of humour that is well appreciated here at the Hollow! The community is having a bit of a time trying to find suitable space for all of the donations, so the little schoolhouse is doing a bit of double-duty, but we’re thankful to have all of these wonderful artifacts that will be shared by many for a long time to come. And of course you are right that it is a labour of love shared by some fabulous folks who donate their time and energy. I would truly love to see some photos of your old school as well! Thanks so much for popping by!

  4. avatar LensScaper says:

    A wonderful piece of writing, Mrs Toad. Evocative of the past and also so very true. Superb images too from Mr Toad. What a superb team effort

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Thank you Andy, it was really fun for both of us to spend time at this little schoolhouse. You could spend days just looking at every little thing! Thanks so much for your comments!

  5. avatar Edith Levy says:

    Wow…fantastic post Mrs. Toad. Incredible history and the images tie everything together so beautifully.

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Thank you Edith, it is really fun to bring some attention to these often overlooked little gems! Thanks for your visit today!

  6. avatar Stacy Butera says:

    This is so fascinating! Thank you for sharing a little bit of history with us, Ms. Toad. This really gives pause to the differences in school learning today. These kids grew up to be community leaders without all of the fancy tablets, computers, etc. that are in use today. Lovely post. Thanks again fo sharing this.

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Hi Stacy, thank you very much for your kind comments! I couldn’t agree with you more, people are capable of great things with or without fancy gizmos. Thank you for stopping by!

  7. What a nice journey back in time. I have to laugh at the thought of my kids surviving in a school like this without all the comforts they’ve come to expect in a classroom.

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Haha! It would be pretty funny to see kids today using slate tablets instead of super computers, but then again it’s much easier to explain missing homework when it just wipes off! Thanks for your visit today!

  8. avatar Curt Fleenor says:

    This is probably my favorite set of images to come out of Toad Hollow and a fantastic article to go along with it!

  9. A wonderful narrative that comes alive on its own. I think this would be quite a compelling story without the photographs to illustrate it. The images are just the icing on the cake – but very nice icing!

  10. avatar Jim Nix says:

    lovely work here Mrs. Toad, I am esp fond of that last image, nice work!