Daily Colonist, June 28, 1931.


Historic Ceremony Rallies Teachers and Old Pupils at Ancient Building.

Premier Presented with Symbolic Key.

Two airplanes, unconscious symbols of the swift flight of time, wheeled over Old Craigflower School yesterday, afternoon while J. C. Newberry, a teacher of the late 70s of last century, rang the ancient bell summoning to their seats the “boys” and “girls” of a far past, rallied for the reunion of former pupils and teachers held under the auspices of the Native Sons and Native Daughters of British Columbia.

It was a memorable gathering, doubly so from the fact that it marked the formal opening of the Craigflower School Museum, which has been assembled by the same active organization with the assistance of the provincial archivist, John Hosie, and various pioneer families of the island. Old-timers from far and near were present. Fifty former pupils, one of whom, eighty-year-old Donald McKenzie, attended the school as a boy of five when it was first opened, occupied the chairs drawn up in front of the venerable schoolhouse; and mingling in the group, perhaps less austerely than they might have done in times gone by, were at least four former teachers, the senior of whom was Mr. Newbury himself.

Not the least impressive figure in the gathering was Premier S. F. Tolmie, representing the Provincial Government as well as one of the most distinguished pioneer families of the province. Sitting beside him was Honourable R. H. Pooley, whose maternal grandfather taught in the old school for a short time in 1865, and another who took a leading part in the proceedings was F. V. Hobbs, Chairman of the Saanich School Board.

R. H. Hiscocks, chief factor of Victoria Post Number One, Native Sons of British Columbia, acted as Chairman in the unavoidable absence of Joseph E Wilson, Chairman of the Craigflower School committee, and Mrs. H. A. Beckwith, as vice chairman, presented Dr. Tolmie with the key to the museum during the latter part of the proceedings.


Half an hour before the formal proceedings began, the quite old grounds were thronged with old-timers busy exchanging reminisces, while members of the committee pursued them with registers in which the names are being preserved as a memento of that location.

Then the old bell clanged, and, as if by instinct roused by the sound of a familiar voice, the old pupils moved to their appointed seats in front of the school, and faced some of the ancient landmarks which is children they could see across the Gorge.

Mr. Hobbs related the facts concerning the renovation of the old school, expressing gratitude that needs had been found to save it from demolition, a suggestion which, as Chairman of the Saanich Board, he had strenuously fought. Now, under the joint trusteeship of the Native Sons and Native Daughters and the Saanich Board, with the proviso that the building should always be kept under repair, it’s future was secure. Great credit was due to the Native Sons and Daughters for the splendid way in which they had carried the enterprise through. The creation of the museum was a happy inspiration and deserving of all praise.


“The astonishing thing is that boys and girls of those days where exactly the same as the boys and girls of today,” said Mr. Pooley, who referred to some notes made by Robert Melrose, who came out from England in 1852 on the “Norman Morrison” to take a bailiffs position with the Hudson’s Bay Company. Robert Melrose kept a diary, and from this Mr. Pooley had learned that the English voyageurs on the ship landed at Esquimalt one day in advance of the Scottish folk, which would indicate that for once the Englishman “beat the Scotsman to it.”

A very cordial tribute was paid by Dr. Tolmie to the committee which had arrange the details of the celebration. He also recalled some historical happenings connected with Craigflower Farm and the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, and the names of Kenneth McKenzie and Robert Melrose, who took charge of to the Farms, were specially mentioned. The pioneers of that time had to depend on themselves for practically everything. In the building of their houses and barns they use local materials, even burning their own limestone and making their own bricks. Kenneth McKenzie had made his community self-contained, even erected a sawmill, a flour mill and a bakery; all the materials for building were cut at the sawmill; supplies were brought up the Gorge in boats which they made themselves.

Among the early teachers at Craigflower whom Dr. Tolmie mentioned were Clark and Clegpool. With the exception of Kenneth McKenzie himself, Dr. Tolmie remembered the entire family, “a splendid type, finely built.” “Bob” McKenzie had been a champion athlete. The family had left an enviable record in pioneering, and were proud example of what the Aberdonian Scott could do in this way.

“The Aberdonian’s have done a great deal for every country to which they have gone. They have adapted themselves and gone to work. And I can say, after living here for sixty-four years, that I don’t know any way for a person to make a living in British Columbia except with some good hard work and common sense,” said Dr. Tolmie. “British Columbia could do with some Aberdonians at the present time. While the Scots are joked at a good deal, they set a good example in thrift and industry.”

Dr. Tolmie concluded with a word of warm praise for the committee which had carried through another commendable effort to reserve one of the old landmarks. It would be a happy thing if a similar move could be set a foot to preserve some of the landmarks in the Cariboo country.

After Mr. Hiscocks had thanked Alex Watson, a grandson of Kenneth McKenzie, for his help in collecting and adding curios to the museum. Mrs. Beckwith presented Dr. Tolmie with the key of the museum, “as a symbol of the fact that it is now open to the people of British Columbia.” She also called attention to the fact that Mrs. McDonald, a daughter of the Mr. Melrose whose diary had been quoted by some of the speakers, was among those present, and added a few reminiscences concerning her experience and discoveries while in pursuit of the information concerning the old Craigflower School.

The formal proceedings were followed by tea, served by ladies in colonial dress, from a picturesque stall in a sheltered part of the grounds.


The museum was visited by everyone, not alone for the relics which it contained, but for the interesting memories which were revived and discussed by many who had last seen the room when they were schoolchildren at their lessons there.

Among the souvenirs in the collection is the organ used in the early days of the school, particularly on Sundays, when the Sabbath services for the community were held in the school. Mrs. J Stewart Yates, a daughter of Mr. J. J. Austin, one of the first organists, was among the visitors present.

Other souvenirs were Miss Goody Mackenzie’s silk riding hat; a photostat copy of the Melrose diary, donated by John Hosie, provincial archivist; a number of farm implements presented by Alex Watson from the McKenzie farm, at Lake Hill, this collection including molds for bricks made at Craigflower in 1853, and also some of the original bricks; a butter churn of oak made and used at Craigflower Farm; an oxen yoke, reminiscent of pre-horse and pre-motor age; bricks brought from England in 1852; some handmade nails brought from England at the same time, some of which can still be seen in the floor of the old school; a piece of the log cabin in which Mr. and Mrs. Melrose lived; pictures of many old-timers, including those of the whole McKenzie family, and a rather famous old Bible used in the school by Charles Clarke, the first teacher. This Bible is now kept in the provincial archives but was loaned for the day, although a photostat of the flyleaf has been made by Mr. Hosie and is now a permanent part of the Craigflower Museum.


An interesting little tree-planting ceremony took place yesterday afternoon, George Jay, Chairman of the Victoria School Board and Alex B Watson officiating. The two little holly trees were off of a tree which Mr. Jay’s father, a pioneer nurseryman of the city, gave to Miss Agnes Mackenzie. The tree, now fully grown, is at the old McKenzie farm at Lake Hill. Mr. Watson is a nephew of Miss McKenzie. Mr. Jay express a hope that the berries would decorate the Christmas pudding of many a Craigflower pupil descendent.

Many visitors took advantage of the kind invitation sent by Mr. Newton, the lessor, to visit the old McKenzie home across Craigflower Bridge.

The committee in charge of yesterday’s arrangements consisted of R H Hiscocks, Mrs. HA Beckwith, William H Kinsman, Fred Waller (treasurer), Mrs. TP Waters, Miss Anna Mason and Miss K Wilson (secretary). These represented the Native Sons and Daughters.

Tea was served by a committee convened by Miss Anna Mason, assisted by Mrs. Waters, Mrs. F Webb, Mrs. JA Lorimer, Miss Etta Neelands, Mrs. Ronald Grant, Mrs. JC Newbury, Mrs. J King, Mrs. CB McDonnell, Mrs. Nickerson, Mrs. Hubbard and Mrs. A. And M. Chrow.


Additional to those already mentioned, there were present Mrs. Tolmie, Mayor Herbert and Mrs. Anscomb, Mr. Justice Martin, Hon. Jay Hinchcliffe and Mrs. Hinchcliffe, Mrs. RH Pooley, Dr. SJ Willis and Mrs. Willis, John Hosie, Miss Hosie, Miss Pooley, G. H. McTavish, Miss a Russell, Mrs. Cree and several other members of the British Columbia Historical Association.

Former Teachers of Craigflower School who were present Included Mr. Newberry (1878-1883), A.M. Bannerman (1886-1890), George H Sluggett (1906-1908), Margaret MCKillican and Mrs. Michael, of Ladysmith a daughter of Thomas Russell, who taught in the school in 1865.


Former pupils included: Mrs. a McDonald (‘ 76), Mrs. N. Douglas (’60),M.E. Dodd(’75), Mrs. Eva Roland, Maie Roland, C.G. Jones, Mrs. W. Isbister, WF Adams, Mrs. M Lewis, HF Peatt, MA Murray, Mrs. JA MacLaren, Eva Kemp, Mrs. Alice Michael, A W Semple, Mrs. AM Bannerman, Gerald Few, Mrs. JS Yates, Edward Williams, Mrs. A. T. Peatt, WJ Barker, Lucy Hancock, WB McMicking, William R Scafe, Carl Strable, John B Adams, Frank Morriss, Mrs. A Turner, Mrs. AM Sinclair, WL Sea, Donald McKenzie, Mrs. Ware, Mrs. H Parker, Thomas Francis, DR Pottinger, Mrs. MF Morrison, Catherine Davis Wharf, Alice Downse, Alfred Peatt, P Stewart, Mrs. A Reynard, M Fagan, JW Rowland, Hattie Newberry, Jesse Martin, JE Jones, JO Jones, AL Stewart, Minnie Croghan, JP Stewart and JE Dodd (’78).