The following story was written by Tony L’Orsa, and is republished here with permission from the author.

This year (2020) marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of both Driftwood Creek and Glentanna schools. A bit of history and a few pictures of the former Driftwood Creek schools are presented below to commemorate these events and to help preserve the memory of some of the people who lived in this area as far back as a century ago.

Driftwood Creek School under construction, 1920. Photo taken from the Telkwa High Road. Source: Louise Gilbert Schroeder collection.

The first school at Driftwood Creek was opened in November, 1920, and the first teacher was Gladys MacDonald. The school was built of logs on the southeastern side of the junction between the Telkwa High Road (Telegraph Trail) and Driftwood Creek Road. The land was provided by Fred Foss who lived about 600 yards up the Driftwood Creek Road from the school, and who was paid $1 annually as rental for the property during the 1920s.

The original plan dimensions of the school were 18 feet by 25 feet, and a 1921 School Inspector’s Report described the building as “very neat”. A sawdust-insulated frame cloakroom had been added to the classroom by February 1922, and a woven wire fence was placed around the school that spring. The fence posts along the Telkwa High Road were painted white and a white gate frame supported a wire gate. A small log stable a few yards northeast of the school was also built about this time to accommodate the pupils who used horses. An addition to the east end of the building, 12 feet in length, had been completed by the middle of February 1928. This schoolhouse provided educational facilities for grades 1 through 8 and served the community for almost 24 years.

 

Driftwood School, south side, 1921 or 1922. Back, left to right: Gladys MacDonald, Lillian Halleran, Mrs. Howell and baby, Nancy Preece, Mrs. Newell and baby, Mrs. Downey, Mrs. Bates (black hat), Margaret Downey, Mrs. Ponder, Mrs. Tinney, Mrs. Preece. Front and middle, left to right: Gladys Gilbert, Claude Newell, Louise Gilbert, Jean Howell, Evelyn Newell (with doll), Kathleen Downey, Esmé Ponder, Jack Downey, Lois Ponder, Frank Tinney (hat), Willy Newell (mostly hidden), Irene Tinney. Source: Louise Gilbert Schroeder. Enhanced at https://www.myheritage.com/photo-enhancer.

 

Flagpole stand at Driftwood Creek School 1921 Back, left to right: Willy Newell, Jack Downey, Nancy Preece, Margaret Downey, Gladys MacDonald (teacher), Claude Newell. Front left to right: Esmé Ponder, Lois Ponder, Jean Howell, Clifford Bateson?, Louise Gilbert?, Evelyn Newell, Gladys Gilbert?, Kathleen Downey. Source: Ponder Family.

 

Sports day at the old Driftwood Creek School; looking west.

In 1943 it was decided that a new school building was required, and on the 20th of June, 1944, the Driftwood Creek School Board paid Fred Foss $25, with $50 to follow, for two acres of land directly across the Driftwood Creek Road north of the original school. The land was surveyed by J.A. Rutherford in 1947 and part of his fee was paid by the Glenwood Women’s Institute who had the adjacent land for the hall surveyed at the same time. A school of two-by-four frame construction was erected on the new land in 1944 by Smithers contractors Bovill and Hann, who received $4,283.05 for the project, and the new school was opened the same year. A two-room teacherage was added to the north end of the new school in 1946, prior to which time Driftwood teachers commonly boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Kirton who lived at the top of the Ponder (now McCabe) Road.

Driftwood Creek School in 1942, with Hazel McInroy, teacher. Looking southwest.

 

The new Driftwood Creek School about 1945. Woodshed, outhouses and Harvey Mountain in the background. No teacherage. Source: Louise Gilbert Schroeder.

 

Driftwood School Class of 1954 – 1955. Top: Chas Clarke (teacher). Back row, left to right: George Holland, Ward Fletcher, David Hickmore?, David Holland, Thomas Hickmore?, Eddy Walton. Front row, left to right: Gerda Walton, Rosemary Walton, Pearl Flint, Carol Schroeder, Iona Marko, Betty Flint. P7411, Bulkley Valley Museum visual record collection.

After the school closed in 1965, the building was used for storage, rented as living space and, for a short time, used as a studio by an aspiring painter. The Board of Trustees eventually offered the school and grounds for sale in September 1989. Bill Mackney, whose sisters attended Driftwood School in the thirties, initiated discussions with the trustees that resulted in the acquisition of the property at a cost of $5,000 by the Glenwood Hall Committee on behalf of the community. The following year the Driftwood School Restoration Committee was formed to renovate and administer the building. Today, Driftwood School is maintained as a community events hall.

The information above was selected from a work-in-progress that preserves some of the history of Driftwood and Glentanna schools. If you have anything concerning these two schools you would like to share, please contact me at lorsa@telus.net.  More pictures of the schools can be found on the Bulkley Valley Museum’s website. Additional information about the history of schools in the Bulkley Valley can be found in the publication “Bulkley Valley School Days” by Della Herman.