Keep KSS open and they will come

Kwalikum Secondary in Qualicum Beach is an asset it would be a shame to lose

I remember, a few years back, after driving my granddaughter and her visiting student to school at Kwalikum Secondary School (KSS), I drove up to the site of old Qualicum Beach Secondary School (QBSS — when the name was spelled with a “Q”). 

The 1950s building was in its final stages of demolition and I sat and looked at the last remaining wall. It was a remnant of the building that had influence on two generations of my family.

That sight brought back District 69 schools, as I mentally reviewed their fates over the years.

When I drive up Kenmuir Road in the north end, I always look with curiosity at the little one room Horne Lake School where I spent some 15 years from September to June. Someone now lives in it and has added on to the building. A road and a row of homes now border the back of the school ground where we used to identify wild flowers at the forest’s edge or study the force of water as it gurgled along the ditch.

A few miles down the old Island Highway, a sagging landmark midway on a double curve of the road has disappeared in a pile of ashes. 

The old Dashwood or Little Qualicum Elementary, empty for so long, found no one to take it to their hearts and was demolished. The schoolyard is the entrance to a new private home.

Once while driving country roads near Cedar and Yellow Point, and not finding what we were looking for, we came upon North Oyster School. This was not the North Oyster I remembered from 1965, a school of similar design and vintage to Little Qualicum, but a fine new structure with a soaring entranceway.

Just across the road sat the old North Oyster I remembered, now in the throes of renovation, its windows walled up, and fine new wood trim around the lower storey.

I called in at the new school, the principal had a few spare minutes and wanted to show us around. There were my Grade 1s and 2s in their class picture of 40 years ago. 

Where, in this new maze of rooms, was my old classroom which had been a new addition to the back of the old school in the ‘60s?

With the general layout still firmly in mind, I noticed the piece of hallway and adjoining classroom covered in dark brown linoleum. The rest of the floors were bright and pale.

That was the telltale clue. The rest of this new school had been built around my old room when the older section had been detached and moved across the road!

Further up our own Island Highway sits the ‘50s vintage, two-room Bowser School that now serves as a church, as does its 1930 one-room predecessor. 

Before it was closed, a portable classroom had been moved in behind the newer school to house the increasing load of students in the area. When that portable was moved, only the iron railing and concrete steps to nowhere remained to indicate its presence.

A well-preserved old clipping about the north end schools sheds a little light on the way schools were in the old days.

Of one of the very first schools, situated on the Deep Bay Spit, an Appraisal Report of 1951 states: “This school was built in 1932 … a single storey frame structure … 25 x 33 feet … heated by an oil heater … toilets built on the rear.”

There were no school buses back then, and children in the Horne Lake area were sent all the way to Coombs to school … first in a neighbour’s station wagon and later in a windowless panel truck with two benches along the sides.

And now the relatively new and vibrant KSS sits shivering on its footings as its fate is debated by forces beyond its control. 

Students come and students go; in the end the numbers even out. 

Little Horne Lake School fluctuated between 10 and 39 students in its day but it hung in there serving the children it was built for.

KSS is not dependent exclusively on the Qualicum Beach population — it serves students all the way north to Deep Bay … and that is young families’ country. 

Good luck, KSS; keep your doors open and they will come!




— Nancy Whelan is a regular News columnist. She lives in Oceansid


Just Posted

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased in Parksville

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Map of the site of a proposed 60-unit building project in French Creek. (RDN map)
Legal counsel wants board to award development permit for French Creek project

Issue is on agenda for RDN board meeting on June 22

The Arrowsmith Search and Rescue Society has outgrown its home at the Coombs-Hilliers Fire Department and will soon move to its new operations hall at the Qualicum Beach Airport. (PQB News file photo)
Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Most Read