Mackenzie Howse is at the little red schoolhouse in 150 Mile House this summer

Little Red Schoolhouse history lesson

One of the most historical treasures in the Cariboo is now open and accessible to the public.

One of the most historical treasures in the Cariboo is now open and accessible to the public.

Thanks to a grant received by the Greenbelt Trails and Heritage Society, the Little Red Schoolhouse on the highway in 150 Mile House is open this summer for fun tours, events and activities.

Offering guests the chance to travel back in time is Mackenzie Howse, who was born and raised in the area and has a passion for sharing the incredible history of the area with visitors, tourists and residents.

“It makes my day when I get to see other people enjoying what I enjoy,” she said. “We’re open to the public so they can visit history: immerse themselves and see what it was like for students in the late 1800s.”

She said that many people here have never seen the inside of this little schoolhouse and having it open all summer will change that.

“Visitors, tourists, local families — there’s something here that will tug a memory, bring a smile and give a great glimpse into this area in the gold rush days,” she continued.

In elementary school Howse had the opportunity to visit the Little Red Schoolhouse several times.

“I loved it! And when I started working here I found the old slate I used to use,” she said. “All the slates had names on them, name of kids who actually went to this school and to the school in Barkerville.

“It appealed to me — all kids like to dress up and we’d put on costumes, bring a sack lunch and go back in time for a day.”

In the one-room classroom there were kids ages five to 15. “There could have been a couple of kids a year or two older if they had to repeat a grade, and the teacher would have been as old as the oldest students,” she explained. “Sometimes the older students helped with the younger ones.”

An average teacher was 17 or 18 years old: mostly young women. “They were required to be single; you could not be courted or leave this city without permission of the school board,” she added. “You had to wear a minimum of two petticoats and you were required to be able to set a broken leg in an emergency; you were not allowed to loiter in ice cream stores and your dress could not be more than two inches above the ankle.”

She said that besides local residents, there have been visitors from places like Thailand and Switzerland, adding that the most common question she gets asked is how long the school was open. “They’re surprised when they find out it was open from 1896 to the late 1950s: nearly 60 years.”

Coming up at the Little Red Schoolhouse are themed weeks in August: music, food and kids. Howse also said a Greenbelt Trail and Heritage Society Facebook page for the schoolhouse summer activities will be up soon.

Howse, who returns in September for her second year at UNBC majoring in biology and minoring in biological anthropology, said she’ll look back and remember the Little Red Schoolhouse and the people who came through here and loved it. “It’s a little tiny gem in the Cariboo,” she said.

For more information about the summer program at the Little Red Schoolhouse, pick up a brochure at the Tourism Discovery Centre or at the schoolhouse; if you attended this school and want to share your story please stop by the schoolhouse or e-mail

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

Just Posted

It’s a go: Williams Lake Garden Club prepares for summer garden tour

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, some measures are in place for this year’s garden tour

B.C. First Nation owned solar farm connected to the grid

Construction was completed by the Tsilhqot’in Nation last year

CRD library to offer curbside pick up in Williams Lake beginning June 9

Due to COVID-19 the library has been closed to the public since March 17

Williams Lake mayor, doctors, tourism, chamber to provide updates at June tailgate event

A maximum of 30 vehicles can attend, event will be livestreamed

Grants for assistance extinguished for independent fire departments within Cariboo Regional District

Ten fire departments will be impacted, CRD-funded and managed fire departments will not be impacted

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Williams Lake Tribune continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘Great Regional Air Hug’ being organized by the Vanderhoof International Airshow Society

A multi-aircraft flyover over the region is being planned for August 15.

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

Most Read