Courtney Zacharias and Barry Sale stand on the steps of the little schoolhouse

Courtney Zacharias and Barry Sale stand on the steps of the little schoolhouse

150 Mile little red schoolhouse open for summer tours

The little red schoolhouse in 150 Mile House is open to the public this summer.

Tara Sprickerhoff

Tribune Staff Writer

The little red schoolhouse that pioneers to the area helped build and generations of 150 Mile residents have attended is finally open to the public this summer.

“We’re just interested in the history and we think others are too,” said Barry Sale, a member of the 150 Mile Heritage and Greenbelt Society and a former principal of the current 150 Mile School. Since 1994 Sale has worked hard to fix up the one room school, finding furniture and discovering the history of the building.

Located in the current 150 Mile Elementary School grounds next to the Yellow Umbrella the building was used as a one room school in the area from 1896 until 1958, when the new school was built.

Originally a refitted log barn served the area as a school. It had opened in 1880 in conjunction with the first “Williams Lake School District” that included an area that expanded to seven miles in all directions from the 150 Mile post and the Cariboo Road.

In order for the original school to be built, the government told the community that a “Chinese house of ill repute” located next door needed to be moved. Originally a small Chinese settlement was based where the current 150 Mile school playground is now.

The school was the first in the area and was built in 150 Mile, not Williams Lake, because that was the booming community of the time. The Cariboo wagon road to the gold fields had skipped the original settlement of Williams Lake and 150 Mile was home to a doctor, store, police and pub.

“It was the centre of everything that was happening,” said Sale. “It was the centre of social life as well as everything else.”

When the student enrolment at the old school increased, a new school was needed. All the lumber came from a local mill near the Onward Ranch and over the course of a year the little red schoolhouse was built. When it opened, in September 1896, 38 students were enrolled in the 150 Mile School.

While it served as a school, teachers and schoolmarms taught Grades 1 through 8, and in the early days, before the railway was built and Williams Lake became a city, any student wishing to attend high school would travel to Cache Creek where there was a large boarding school.

In 1958 a new four room school was opened up the hill where the current school stands and the little red schoolhouse became a private residence until 1973, when it was then abandoned.

“In 1980 the community group decided that they would like to revamp and renovate it. Make it back into an old historic schoolhouse again,” said Sales. The group built a new concrete foundation on the corner of the school grounds and that winter skidded the building to its new, and current, location.

Since then, time and effort by Sale with help from many different members of the community has been spent to refit, refurnish and re-open the little school.

Prior to this year the schoolhouse was used primarily during pioneer school units in Grade 2 and Grade 5.

This summer, thanks to a Canada Jobs Grant from the federal government as well as a CRD Arts and Culture Grant and assistance from the Yellow Umbrella, the 150 Mile Heritage and Greenbelt Society is able to open the little red school house for tourists and interested locals.

Courtney Zacharias, a recent graduate, is working at the school this summer. Her job is to welcome guests, work on the inventory of the building, as well as research the history of the school.

“One girl the other day came in and told the story of her grandmother who was in all the pictures on the wall,” said Zacharias. “I write the stories down.”

“What we are trying to do is have [the stories] recorded so that we have them,” said Sale, adding that he hopes one day to be able to do something with the stories in order to help tell the history of the building.

Zacharias is enjoying working at the school this summer, exploring the history of the Cariboo.

“Personally, I never really knew anything about Williams Lake and 150 Mile, so working here I actually got to learn a lot about where I live. It’s interesting that it’s Canada’s history and my own history,” she said.

“Most interesting is how much kids really like this place. I thought it would mostly be elderly people, or tourists coming in to see the history, but a lot of times it is kids who went to the program at 150 Mile House and they had a lot of fun … They like the history so it’s cool to see young children in here,” she said.

“A lot of kids come in and they sit at the desks and ask for a lesson of some sort.”

Zacharias, who wants to be teacher and will be volunteering at an orphanage in Peru this fall, always delivers a lesson on the history of the building.

The little schoolhouse is full of history. The walls show pictures of attendees of the school and 150 Mile House as it was when the school was first opened. There is an old wood stove, still used to heat the school, authentic desks and school books that date back to the 1920s.

Walking in, the visitor feels transported back in time to the days of the one room schoolhouse.

The school has a slow flow of visitors and Zacharias takes the time to answer everyone’s questions and talk with each guest.

“Everyone is welcome, old students and young students alike,” said Sale.

“It’s nice to have the place open and its really great to see people coming in and being interested in the history of this area,” he said.

Anyone who went to the school, or has their own stories and memories about the building are encouraged to drop in and talk with Zacharias so that she can build on the history of the school.

Visiting hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and the schoolhouse will stay open until the end of August.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The wind has been gusting Friday, March 5 in Williams Lake with the risk of a thunderstorm in the forecast for later in the afternoon. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
More than 500 customers in Cariboo without power, risk of thunderstorm Friday afternoon

The BC Hydro map is adding more power outages as the afternoon unfolds

International Women’s Day is March 8. (Internationalwomensday.com)
International Women’s Day 2021: #choosetochallenge

International Women’s Day is marked annually on March 8

The OT Timber Frames Ltd. crew of Wacey MacDonald (from left), Sean Empey, Josh Douglas, Kurt Leuenberger, Ruedi Baumann, Simon Gansner, Annie Murray (in front) and Josie the dog stand in front of a newly constructed timber frame outdoor classroom for the 150 Mile House Elementary School. (Photo submitted)
The Fox Mountain Trail Network will undergo a significant machine- and hand-built upgrade thanks to a $253,000 grant from the province’s Rural Economic Recovery program. (Scott Horley photo)
Major Fox Mountain bike trail upgrade project slated to begin this May

A machine-built downhill trail, along with an improved uphill route, are part of the project

Four projects in Williams Lake have received Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program funding. (City of Williams Lake photo)
$1.35 million CERIP funds going to projects in Williams Lake

Mayor Walt Cobb thanked the province for its investment in the community

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
B.C. dentists and bus drivers want newly-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Most Read