The Westholme School is all spruced up in advance of a big celebration next year.
The old schoolhouse on Mount Sicker Road just off the Trans Canada Highway recently received a paint job and is already looking its finest for a 100th anniversary next year.
Great Dane Painting did the work, all on ladders.
“There was lots of prep work,” said Dale Jensen, president of the Westholme School Society. “That was a huge amount to get them to do that.
“Give them their kudos on their abilities.”
The schoolhouse was restored to its original colours, although with multiple layers over the years it’s thought it could have been even whiter.
“I think it turned out pretty good with the creamy colour and the brown and the white-trimmed windows,” observed Jensen.
“It’s been sort of long overdue. The weather and so on does a number on the exterior of any building. It was long overdue to get it refurbished.”
The schoolhouse on the site is not the original. The previous school burned down in 1918.
“At that time, everything was in flux with the First World War,” noted Jensen. “It didn’t get reinstated until 1923.”
The school continued to serve the region and is now a designated heritage building after a century of existence.
“That should be something we look forward to next year,” Jensen said of the anniversary.
Jensen, who has always lived in the area, attended the school as a child. The lower grades one through three were in the older school at the time, he said, with the students in grades four through six in the annex.
“When the annex wasn’t here, they had everything in there (old school) up to Grade 8,” Jensen added.
The non-profit society was formed in 2001 and the Municipality of North Cowichan owns the property, he indicated.
There are a varying number of members in the society, about 30, whose mandate is to restore, preserve and maintain the historic schoolhouse and annex in Westholme. The buildings are also available as a community meeting place and the picturesque grounds have often been rented for special events.
The schoolhouse is a bit of a hidden gem in plain sight. “A lot of people drive by,” said Jensen.
Unbeknownst to many, it has a long history in the community. Jensen hopes celebrations planned for next year will bring its significance and importance to the forefront.