There was activity once again at the old Kettle Valley Schoolhouse property on Aug. 14. An impressive turnout of locals came by to tell their stories and ideas to inform the preparation of a heritage conservation plan for the site.
Folks were enthusiastic, nostalgic and practical in their participation — some shared memories, some helped map out the chronology of the property and one even lent ladders, tools and a hand to give the consultant’s team access to the various parts of the building and even repair two holes in the roof!
The property has been leased from the RDKB to Trails to the Boundary Society. The society is pursuing a project to restore the property, starting with a community consultation and assessment by a heritage consultant. The community consultation component has been ongoing from July until the end of August.
Over the past months, the team has been compiling historic information, stories and ideas by reading books and oral histories, studying old maps and photos and interviewing former Kettle Valley residents who no longer reside in the area.
As part of the overall community consultation aspect of the project, the visit gave an opportunity for local residents of all ages to revisit the site, meet the trails society and heritage consulting team in person, and begin pulling together a comprehensive chronology of the site and its values to the community, while also brainstorming ideas for its future use.
All input gathered will inform the production of a heritage conservation plan for the site which will guide the rehabilitation of the building and property as well as help us access funding and grants from various sources.
“The site visit involved a condition assessment and inventory of the building and site as well as engagement with community members who helped us understand what we were looking at,” said Elana Zysblat, heritage consultant.
“People were excited to be back on site and enjoyed reminiscing with each other about school days, Halloween parties, teen nights and hockey games. Every single person who came out contributed to our understanding of the site in a meaningful way. Folks were positive, helpful and generous with their time and knowledge.
“We see a lot of potential for this site in becoming once again a multi-use gathering place for the Kettle Valley community that both respects the historic school and community uses, but also allows for new, relevant and timely uses that reflect the community’s needs today.”
The one-room building was originally constructed in 1910 by W.A. Shillcock on land donated by Major Glossop of the Kettle Valley Irrigated Fruits Co. The school was expanded and renovated by J.O. Thompson in 1922. While the building officially closed as a school in 1948, it was used again briefly in the mid-1950s while expansions were underway on the newer school nearby.
For decades thereafter, up until the early 1990s, the building was referred to as the Kettle Valley Clubhouse. A variety of groups and residents in the area used it as a meeting place, or for events, and also as an outdoor rink.