Schools of Rossland
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The first school classes in Rossland were in 1895 in the Methodist Church building on the east side of Washington St between 1st and 2nd Avenues, with DD Birks, the Methodist Minister conducting the lessons. The Minister of Education, Colonel James Baker, visited Rossland that December, and was petitioned to help Rosslanders build a proper school for the 98 school-age children listed at the time. As a result, the local government functionary, gold commissioner Napoleon Fitzstubbs, was authorized to raise a two-roomed building on Kootenay Avenue which, after a winter of fund-raising concerts and entertainments, was completed on August 10th, 1896. In September of 1896, 143 students crowded themselves into the two rooms, taught by MH Dobie and his assistant Miss Moffat. The situation was not considered ideal, and families that could afford to either sent their children to Spokane or registered them in Mrs. Corey’s private school. There was also a kindergarten run by the Misses Kehoe and Florman.
Under pressure from the Rossland School Board, Victoria awarded a contract for $7475 to Robert Hunter of Spokane to build Central School on 4th Avenue between Monte Christo and St Paul streets. It was completed in May of 1898, as well as a two-room addition to the Kootenay Avenue school, for a total price, including construction and land acquisition, of $11,700. That fall 500 kids were registered in the two schools.
Central School was destroyed by fire in June 1917. McLean School was built in 1918 on St Paul St between 1st and 2nd Avenues. In the interim four classrooms were again set up in the Methodist Church until McLean was built.
The 1901 census recorded 6000 residents in Rossland, and that year the Rossland High School was built on Cook Avenue. This school was also called Central School (after the original Central School was destroyed by fire), and later it was called Cook Avenue School.
There was also a school built in 1900 at the Velvet Mine in the Sheep Creek Valley. This was during a building spree at the mine when they purchased a saw mill and built the school, a superintendents house, and bunkhouses, but the fortunes of the mine took a turn for the worse soon after. In March 1901 the Rossland Miner reported that 30 pupils were enrolled in the Velvet school.
There was also a school in Sheep Creek Valley right next to Frank Thorpe’s place. Alfie Albo told me a story about a young school teacher who came there to teach and took up with Frank, resulting in Frank’s wife moving to Rossland and working in the Allan Hotel. Alfie said the school was very old at that time, but I have no information on when it was built.
The current Rossland Secondary School was built in 1950. The auditorium collapsed in 1968 and was rebuilt.