The sign at the Honeymoon Bay Lodge and Retreat recognizes the building’s former role as the town’s school. Many former school buildings are no longer standing.

Society marking former schools around lake

Exact location of First Yount School near Youbou still unknown.

A group of Cowichan Valley citizens are once again coming to the Cowichan Lake area, both within the communities and out into the bush, in order to commemorate the history of education, erecting signage at the former sites of 16 more schools across the region.

The project, which began in January 2013, is continuing through its second phase of operation, with three of the 16 schools to be marked located around the Cowichan Lake. These are: the Lake Cowichan Superior School (1925 – 1937), located on 29 Renfrew Avenue and now the location of Lisa’s Fit Stop; Nixon Creek Elementary(1927 – 1989), which is now just a vacant lot; and the First Yount School (1925 – 1935) in Youbou. The Mayo School (1920 – 1969) in Paldi is also set to have its own sign soon.

While choosing a spot for the sign may be simple with schools like the Lake Cowichan Superior School, as the building still stands, doing so is more challenging for others, such as the First Yount School. The Cowichan Valley Schools Heritage Society knows that the school is located on Mile 83, though they have yet to determine just where.

“We have the history, we just don’t have the exact location,” society spokesperson Carolyn Prellwitz said.

The signs feature a golden school bell design, and identify their location as that of a former school, also listing the school’s name and its years of operation.

15 former school sites were identified during the project’s first phase, including the Honeymoon Bay School (pictured) and the Nitinat School to the west of Youbou.

In total, the group identified 90 former school in the Cowichan Valley during the inaugural phase, with that number since rising to 139.

The society is currently collecting letters of support from the Valley’s local governments, including the Town of Lake Cowichan.

Once the Schools Heritage Society has received approval, they will be applying for a grant to cover the costs of erecting the signs.

“The first phase of the project cost us about $1700, but we’re not sure if the costs have gone up since then,” Prellwitz said. “We rely on volunteers a lot, so we’re hoping that it will be the same this time, though we know that prices change.”

The society is currently seeking volunteers and for photos of the schools from when they were still in operation. To get involved with the Cowichan Valley Schools Heritage Society, contact Carolyn Prellwitz at 250-748-7425.

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