Old School House grads remember

Before it was Qualicum Beach’s art centre, TOSH was an actual school house

Al Pletz

The Old School House arts centre (TOSH) in Qualicum Beach has a long and varied past and some of its rich history was shared during the 100th anniversary celebration on Saturday, July 28.

Before TOSH became an arts centre, the building was used as a school after opening its doors on August 24, 1912.

Ninety-one year old Don McMillan who graduated in 1937 shared some of his memories as a student at TOSH.

It has been 75 years since McMillan sat in a classroom at TOSH but despite the many years that have gone by, his recollection of how things were is as sharp as ever.

He told the crowd, gathered for the birthday festivities on Saturday afternoon that the building is much more pleasant now.

“It was cold in the winter and there was just a wood stove to heat the school.  In the summer time the water was dis-



gusting because the dam on Whiskey Creek would go down,” he recalled.

McMillan said he would ride his bike to school from the Dashwood area because back in the day there were no buses.

“I came to school by bicycle from Texada Road.  Even in the winter … snow…rain or shine … I don’t think I missed a day,” he admitted.

McMillan said in the winter he had to use special shoes with spikes in them so he could get up the hill.

“I had to walk up the road from Memorial.  I had to wear cork shoes so I wouldn’t slip on the icy pavement,” he recalled.

McMillan who still lives in the area said he was one of the lucky one’s who got to graduate from Grade 12.

“Up until 1930 you had to pay for admission to high school, so many of the kids didn’t make it past Grade 9.”

After graduating McMillan went on to work in the logging industry and eventually went into business for himself including producing utility poles.

As for the progress that has occurred in Qualicum Beach over the years, McMillan agreed most of it is good.

“They argue and fight making it (progress) but I haven’t seen many bad decisions.  It feels like we are making progress and I am happy with the progress,” he declared.

McMillan said he is thrilled that his old school is an art centre and particularly enjoys going to Music on Sunday.

Hundreds of people were on hand to help TOSH celebrate 100 years on the weekend and McMillan said he was thrilled to see so many people enjoying the event.

“This is what makes a community,” he agreed.


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