Old Chemainus Elementary a place of fond memories for so many students

Old Chemainus Elementary a place of fond memories for so many students

The building may be torn down, but it won’t soon be forgotten

A few weeks ago, my column featured personal memories from the days I spent as a student at the former Chemainus Elementary School that was recently torn down after sitting idle for many years.

We asked you for any thoughts that came to mind about the school from days of yore. We received a considerable number of responses about teachers, the overall experience at the school, the times we all lived in fear of the strap and so much more.

Facebook, in particular, lit up with comments. Following is a sample of some of the feedback:

Two of the best years of my 30-year teaching career were spent as librarian at Chemainus Elementary School Complex. This comprised Chemainus El., Chemainus Primary and Thetis Island School).

Although this was the ‘middle ages’ of teaching, our little school did, for the time, some innovative stuff. The Grade Five teacher and I explored a new concept in teaching called ‘team teaching and cooperative planning’. We co-planned and taught a science unit. Our project was displayed at the school board office on Beverly Street.

Through reading professional journals, I introduced a new concept called ‘Bibliotherapy’. That involved tailoring a book choice to a child’s particular emotional or social needs. For instance, if a child had experienced a recent death in the family, I might recommend a novel in which a child experienced the death of a close friend.

We were one of the first schools in the District to teach a native language. I have fond memories of an afternoon trip to Kuper Island to partake of a wonderful salmon ‘pot latch’ sponsored by the tribal chief.

Without benefit of computer, I organized three card catalogues, and taught research skills and Children’s Literature to about 250 students. I even set up a ‘professional library’ for the teachers in the staff room.

However, the most fun part of the job was loading up my little truck with boxes of books and teaching materials and taking ‘library services’ over to the one-room Thetis Island School. I would spend one Friday per month ‘spelling off’ the Thetis Island teacher. I found the innovative methods she used with fourteen students all at different grade levels most interesting.

Our little school did, for its time, give the students a good basic ‘no frills’ education as well as introducing some commendable innovations.

Joy Glover Sheldon, B.Ed. *


-Joy is a member of both the B.C. Federation of Writers and the Retired Teachers’ Association.

From Facebook:

I went to Chemainus Elementary from Grade 1 to Grade 7.

I remember the girls were not allowed to wear pants to school so in the winter. When we wanted to go out and play in the snow we had to change into pants in the girls’ playroom. Yes, there was a girls’ playroom and a boys’ playroom and then change back to our dresses once lunch was over.

At lunchtime we would play Chinese skipping, marbles, what time is it Mr. Wolf or play on the swings. Would ride my bike to school and there was a covered bike shed where the bikes were kept.

All the sports days were so much fun (relays, sack races, high jump, bean bag races, three legged races and so much more). My most memorable teacher was Mrs. Hoy – Grade 2 and later I went to her for extra help with my reading.

My husband and I ended up building a house next door to Mrs. Hoy (Eleanor) and her husband Helgi in 1981 where we still live. She was retired from teaching by this time, but always had a passion for learning and offered her services to our children when they needed extra help.

Was very sad to see the old school demolished. I always felt that is where the new school should have been built. Will never forget those days.

Glenda Liimatta

I went from Grade 5 to 7. I remember Mrs. Mottershead’s outdoor activities and especially every year our sports day and Mr. Fitch outside one of the classroom windows on a ledge making the announcements for the upcoming races.

I remember in Grade 7 we went through a fair number of teachers and I don’t know why. We were pretty good kids.

I remember Mr. Winter reading ‘Up periscope’ every year to the class.

Susan Kemmler

Not only did I go from (Grades) 2-7, I was blessed to live next door. Shared a fence and so many memories not just during but before after and on weekends at that school. Most of my childhood was spent there.

Keeley Morrison-Morey

I was there from Grade 4 to 7.

Mr. Fitch was an awesome teacher. I remember hopscotch and skipping and the playrooms with the poles in the middle of the floor and Mr. Hickman, Mrs. Gammie, Mrs. Cocks, getting milk in the glass bottles.

Shug Cross

Grade 2-7: I have so many wonderful memories, last day of school sports day with Grade 7 getting to do a donut eating contest. We couldn’t wait to be that old. Mrs. Johnson and her choirs, I still sing those songs to my children.

Quinn Lynes

I went there from Grades 1-6.

My 7th Grade class was the first to attend and graduate from the new school. It was very exciting times. After it closed I remember as a teenager attending the high school down the hill from it always getting in trouble for sneaking up to the old elementary school on our lunch breaks.

Lauren Stewart

I went there from Grade 2-7, great memories, playing in the playroom, hopscotch, the monkey bars and Friday afternoon sock hops. My favourite teachers were Mr. Fitch, Mrs. Hagedorn (I loved her choir), Mrs. Mottershead and my Grade 4 teacher Ms. Scott-Moncreif.

Sina Marie McCasky

Oh no! But it’s time I guess, I started Grade 1 there in 1961, Miss Byers.

School went to Grade 7, then on to high school. I bet if I’d seen it today it would be so small as to what I remember. The sports day, the marble tournaments, recess inside on pouring rainy days, wow, so many memories.

Sherrie Houston

Did my Grade 1 to 12 in Chemainus. I remember getting the strap in Grade 4 for writing my own sick note so I wouldn’t have to take P.E.

Gwen Campbell

Went there from Grade 2-7, 1967-1972. Favourite teachers Mrs. Cocks, Mr. Fitch and Mr. Marks, made a couple of lifelong friends there, such good memories.

Michelle Eileen Lau

Who remembers the egg drop? Lots of special memories.

Sara Vanderbasch


Old Chemainus Elementary a place of fond memories for so many students

Old Chemainus Elementary a place of fond memories for so many students