2. One School 1860-1872

In the 1860’s, boats travelling between Victoria and Nanaimo went up the narrow passage between Vancouver Island and the west coast of Salt Spring Island. These boats, bringing the mail and supplies as well as people, called in on Burgoyne Bay and Vesuvius Bay

In this early period, settlers chose land north of Booth Canal and Ganges Harbour, and in the south, along the valley between Burgoyne Bay and Fulford Harbour. Travel between the south end of the island and the north was difficult, because of the steepness of the central range called the Divide. There were no roads, just tracks through the forest - and these early settlers often had to deal with bears and wolves and cougars

Most of the families in the Burgoyne Bay-Fulford Valley area had fathers who had come from Europe, and mothers who were from the local First Nations, the Cowichan band. The Governor of Vancouver Island, James Douglas, advised the early settlers to “take an Indian woman for a wife” because she would know how to gather food and prepare it well, to keep a family alive.

The first children to go to the first school at Central all had parents who were Black, most born into slavery before becoming free. (Annie Robinson and her younger sisters had a white Irish mother - she was married to their Black father before they came to the island) Governor Douglas in 1858 had promised them all “No more segregation” and guaranteed them equal rights. The Black settlers were families already - most of the other first settlers were bachelors. The bachelors soon married and started families, but at first there were only Black children.

Their teacher was John Craven Jones. He was born into slavery. His father had bought the family’s freedom. He sent his sons to Oberlin College, Ohio, where Blacks were educated as equals. Mr. J.C.Jones was a well educated young man with two years’ teaching experience before he came to Salt Spring. He was able to start teaching as soon as the children arrived, before there was a real schoolhouse.

In 1861 the community in the north built a log schoolhouse. John Craven Jones taught there, and in a ‘shack’ (shed) further north. He walked between the two places to teach. The danger from cougars meant it was better for children not to walk too far to learn. By 1872, some of the children Mr. Jones taught in the small shed in the north end had the same cultural backround as those who went to the Burgoyne Bay School. Many of their fathers had worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Their mothers were First Nations women. The other children in the Begg’s Settlement area were Black, like the first children in the log schoolhouse.
2b. One School 1860-1872

Check your Dictionary
verb: to settle; noun: a settler; noun: a settlement
noun: a community
noun: your culture
noun: your background
noun: your heritage
adj: multicultural

Check your Understanding
- explain what you think is meant by ‘cultural background’(check the Dictionary Definitions which accompany these pages)
- try describing your ‘cultural heritage’

Challenge your Understanding
- what was the ‘cultural background’of the first settler children in the southern area of Salt Spring Island, in the Fulford Valley area?
- what were the two different ‘cultural backgrounds’ of the children in the north end school shed?

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