9. One School District - 1940 onward

The entire island became one consolidated school district. A bus service was started, to transport all the island’s children to one large building in Ganges, called the Consolidated School. In the old one-room schoolhouses, all the elementary grades were taught together by one teacher.

In the big new school building there were classes for different grades, and many teachers. The Consolidated school housed both the elementary and high school classrooms. (This building is now Salt Spring Elementary School)

Life changed forever when the little one-room schoolhouses closed. They had long been the hub of local neighbourhood community life. The more isolated areas of Isabella Point and Beaver Point were able to keep their little schools open until July 1951. But from 1951 until Fernwood School was opened in 1979, there was only the one school on Salt Spring Island.

For the Consolidated School students, a dramatic change came early in 1942, with the enactment of the War Measures Act. All Canadians with Japanese ancestry on the Gulf Islands were suddenly deprived of their homes and businesses, their farms and land, and their cars and possessions. They were relocated to the interior. There had been about 80 Salt Spring Islanders.who were of Japanese origin, and many more on the other Gulf Islands. Suddenly, none of these children came to the Consolidated School any more. Their families were forced to leave. This was because in the Second World War, which started in 1939 in Europe. In 1941 Japan was fighting on the opposite side to Canada. Japan bombed Pearl Harbour, in the Pacific ocean (Hawaii). War creates fear. The government feared that the Islanders who were Japanese would somehow be a danger on the coast. So, , even though they were Canadian citizens, they were prohibited from living here any more. Even when the war ended, they were not given back what was taken from them.

In 1988, on behalf of all Canadians, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney formally apologized to Japanese Canadians for the way they had been treated, and gave some compensation for what had been taken from them.

Check your Dictionary
verb: to consolidate; noun: consolidation
verb: to relocate

- ‘the hub of’ means the centre of, the place where everything comes together
- ‘were deprived of’ means they had those things taken away. Even after the war ended, they were not given back.
- ‘were relocated to the interior’ means they were taken away and made to live very far away from the coast, near the Rocky Mountains.
- ‘forced to leave’ means they had no choice. They were not allowed to stay, however much they were proud Canadians and Salt Spring Islanders, and had no wish to fight for Japan against Canadians.
- ‘given some compensation’ means they were paid back some money

Check your Memory and Mapping Skills:
- use a print-out of this map to see if you can reconstruct where the previous eight school districts’ boundaries lay

Check your Inferential Comprehension (educated guesswork)
- make a colour key to shade in the areas in which the following multicultural elements are most likely to have attended school:
with First Nations heritage
with Black heritage
with Hawaiian heritage
with Japanese heritage

Challenge your Knowledge of your Neighbourhood and Community
- do you know the name of your own school district?
- could you describe the area it includes?
- could you outline its boundaries on a map?
- could you describe its boundaries in words?
- could you list the main cultural heritage of parts of your school district today?

check the dictionary