Retired teacher Audrey Dye makes history come alive for elementary students during enactments in the little red schoolhouse at 150 Mile House.

Retired teacher Audrey Dye makes history come alive for elementary students during enactments in the little red schoolhouse at 150 Mile House.

History alive for students in 150 Mile House

Local students enjoyed a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience school life in 1896.

Local students enjoyed a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience school life in 1896, thanks to efforts of retired teachers Audrey Dye and Chris Donaldson.

When elementary school students lined up outside the little red school house in 150 Mile House, summoned by the old-fashioned bell beside the door, they took on the character of a local pioneer.

They donned costumes and assumed the mannerisms of students of the era, including standing quietly in the aisles beside their seats, calling their teacher Ma’am, bowing and curtsying and answering questions in complete sentences.

“This building opened in 1896,” explains Audrey Dye. “Before that, there was a little school on the hill, donated by a rancher. It was a small, unused stable with a sod roof. The chimney smoked, there were no windows and it was dark, dank and smoky. Parents didn’t want their children in that building so they got together and built this one.

“This is the first school in the Williams Lake School District. It was called that even though there wasn’t really a Williams Lake town yet.”

She said students bring lunches as close to the era as possible; some bring lunch tied in a handkerchief on a stick, or in a lard pail or basket. “They’re asked to bring nothing in plastic and they bring their drinks, milk or water in Mason jars,” she continued.

“They practice copperplate writing with pens, nibs and ink; the younger ones use the slates and pencils.

“We talk about life beyond the school room, too, including what a treat it was for rural children to visit the general store run by Mr. Borland and Mr. Veitch. We would have watched all the wagons heading north to Barkerville. All the kids in those days would have come from ranching or families and they wouldn’t get to go the store often,” she added.

“We give them a taste of what a treat those visits were; if children were lucky they would have been given a penny to spend on candy and would have received a waxed paper envelope full of candy.”

The children also learn about how food was preserved in the days of no refrigeration.

“They learn about having nothing disposable, that a simple piece of waxed paper was used again and again until it shredded apart and was used for fire starter. Water was conserved because you had to pack it from a well or a river,” Dye said.

Currently classes from 150 Mile School take part in the two-week program. Other schools have taken part in the past and Dye said she’d like to see it expand.

“The kids, they love it. They all want to come and don’t want to miss out. It’s important for them to get a sense of the reality of that era: the lack of electricity and technology. They love to play act and really get into it,” she said.

“It’s so much fun. Some kids are related to some of the local pioneer names and love to re-enact their ancestors. When they come year after year, what they remember from here is astounding.”

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

Just Posted

Chief Joe Alphonse
OP-ED: Williams Lake municipal, regional councils lack awareness on historical trauma

Systemic racism isn’t always obvious to those that are not experiencing it

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

The City of Williams Lake is asking for public feedback on whether it should explore the opportunity to host a Greater Metro Hockey League team in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake GMHL expansion questions, concerns, to be discussed later this month

If approved, the team would begin play in the fall of 2021

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

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

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second death reported in Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

A total of seven cases have been identified at the hospital: six patients and one staff

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

(File photo)
Kamloops Mountie bitten while arresting woman

The assault on March 1 is the latest in a string of incidents that have left local officers injured

Most Read