3. Two School Districts 1872-1884

The island was divided into two school districts, using the north and south divisions used for surveying. It was hard to go inland from the south to the school in the north, because of the steepness of the central range called the Divide. At this time, the north-south road was only a narrow track and very rough.

In the 1870’s areas of the island were called by the name of the nearby dock and Post Office. So the school in the south was called the Burgoyne Bay school, although the settlers called it the Burgoyne Valley school. There was a Post Office and dock at Burgoyne Bay, and you walked through to the valley from there. 

Most of the families in the Burgoyne Valley 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, had recommended to the early settlers that they “take an Indian woman for a wife” because she would know how to gather and prepare food to keep a family alive.


The main school in the north was called Vesuvius School (because you landed at Vesuvius Bay to reach that area, and collected your mail at the Vesuvius Bay Post Office). The islanders soon called this school “the school at Central”. By the 1890’s there was a Post Office, a General Store, a Public Hall, and even a small Jail, beside the school at “Central Settlement”.

By 1872 the oldest Black children at the log schoolhouse at Central were nearly ready to leave school. (Emma Stark, who started school here with John Craven Jones, became a teacher near Nanaimo in 1874). Mr. J.C. Jones was still teaching where he had begun in 1860, at Central, and in the shed further north.

In 1872 the school further north was called Vesuvius North, because in the Government’s mind it was in the north of the Vesuvius district. You reached this district from Victoria by landing at the dock in Vesuvius Bay. But the earliest Salt Spring Islanders of the time called it the Begg’s Settlement School, because Mr. Begg’s Post Office and Store was there. By the 1880’s this area became known as “the North End”, as it still is today, so the Islanders called this school the North End School. The Government still called it Vesuvius North.

Some of the children who went to the North End School had the same cultural background as those who went to the Burgoyne Bay School. Many of their fathers had worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Other children who went to the North End School had the same cultural background as those who went to the school at Central. Their parents were Black, and had been born into slavery in America. They came to Canada to start a new life, and be treated as equals.

3b. Two School Districts 1872-1884

Check your Dictionary
verb: to divide; noun: a division
verb: to survey; noun: a survey
noun: a district (a school district)

Check your Understanding
- The early names of the schools make them sound as if they were by the sea. Yet not one of Salt Spring Island’s many schools were ever beside the sea.Try to explain why they had these names.

Challenge your Memory
- what did the islanders call their three schools in 1872-1884?

Challenge your Visual Memory
- study the line of the north-south division on the map in relation to the lakes in the central portion of the map
- draw a horizontal line for the north-south division, and then try drawing the lakes, copying the map
- after closing your eyes, try visualising where the north-south division passes between the lakes

check the dictionary