Anniversary of achievement

Exhibitions, concerts and historical stories make up the celebrations of TOSH’s 25th

The Old School House (TOSH) is celebrating 25 years in Qualicum Beach.  Al Greir

The Old School House (TOSH) is celebrating 25 years in Qualicum Beach. Al Greir

The 25th anniversary of The Old School House arts centre (TOSH) in Qualicum Beach is about to be celebrated in a huge way.

The anniversary reception is Wed., Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. and is open to the public. Executive Director Corrine James said it will be a reunion of sorts with past board members and artists who have been involved from the early days.

To mark the occasion, an exhibition of collaborative work will be on display until March 16. It includes some paintings inspired by the work of 25 photographers.  The photographers submitted their images to painters who then created a painting based on that photograph.

A Night at the Silent Movies, Sat., Feb. 25, is sold out but another silent movie night has been scheduled for April 15. The movies, starring Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, will be accompanied by classical pianist Bruce Vogt. Tickets are $18 and include refreshments.

A special concert for Music on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 2:30, will feature, Musica Intima, an eight-voice vocal chamber ensemble.

James said there is a rich history to celebrate at TOSH.  She said Brad Wylie’s History of The Old School House has a detailed account of how it all started. In 1987 the Arts Council notified the town council that its board of directors had decided not to proceed further with its efforts to renovate and lease the old school board building.

Al Greir, an alderman at the time and the president of the chamber of commerce, launched a campaign to save the building. The chamber held a special meeting to consider sponsoring and raising the estimated $150,000. They decided to hold a public meeting to determine the community’s interest in saving the building and converting it into a cultural and art centre.

Then the fundraising began and TOSH was the first art gallery in B.C. to be awarded charity status. The first Garden Party and Art Auction was held at the estate of Veronica Milner, now called Milner Gardens. Tom McIver was recruited to ready the grounds for the event. 200 tickets at $100 each were sold and 30 pieces of art were auctioned off. The event made over $23,000.

When the restoration to the building began in July, 1987, it was quickly realized that the job was huge.

McIver agreed to supervise the construction and enlisted the help of the Brannen Lake Prison for a supply of 10 men, five days a week.

There are wonderful stories about the renovations and the many volunteers and businesses that helped along the way.

The planning committee became the founding board and The Old School House opened on Feb. 27, 1988.  At the opening, Greir stated “the $183,000 renovation costs had all been paid without a penny from local taxes.” McIver called the project “symbolic of volunteer effort.”

Copies of Brad Wylie’s history will be made available during the 25th anniversary celebrations to anyone interested reading the details.