Yesterday, November 9, 2011, was an exciting day in Revelstoke, as the new Revelstoke Secondary School was formally opened. The building is visually stunning, and is a wonderful asset to our community. Congratulations to all who were involved in this project.
Revelstoke’s first High School opened in September of 1904, in a small building that had previously been used as an annex to Revelstoke’s first elementary school. The first teacher was C.B. Sissons, who went on to become a distinguished Canadian academic. He was invited here at the suggestion of his cousin, Rev. James Woodsworth. Woodsworth was a Methodist Minister who had spent a short time here. He later became the founder of the Canadian Commonwealth Federation – now known as the New Democratic Party.
C.B. Sissons received a salary of $1500 per year when he came to Revelstoke. He was very active in sports and outdoor pursuits, and spent his summers working on A.O. Wheeler’s survey of the Selkirk Mountains. He taught his students Latin, Greek, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, English literature, composition and grammar, geography, history, physiology, book-keeping and drawing. In the first year of the High School, Sissons had 23 students. One of them, Geoffrey Haggen, became a Rhodes Scholar and became Dean of Law at the University of Leeds, England.
By 1914, the small wooden
school was very overcrowded, and a new brick building was constructed by
local contractor O.W. Abrahamson.
The Mail-Herald of January 31, 1914 reported, “For years high school students and teachers have been hampered by the unsanitary and uncomfortable conditions existing in the old ramshackle building in which they have been quartered. Now the energy and perseverance of the school board, backed by the city and government, have resulted in building in this city the finest high school in BC.” Visitors who came to the opening ceremony were asked to bring at least one book to donate to the school library. An annex for Home Economics and Manual Training was built in 1938, and an addition with gymnasium in 1951. Prior to that, only outdoor sports were played, but soccer was a problem, because the ball would go across Third Street and over the bank into the river, and the school was only allowed to purchase one ball a year.
In 1965, the High School was moved to Tenth Street. There were already two schools at that site: Mountain View Elementary and Joseph Hammond Junior High School. The schools were renovated to became the new high school, and Mountain View Elementary was moved to the old high school building. The new Revelstoke Secondary School is a positive step forward for education in Revelstoke.
The photograph shows the original frame high school with the class of 1912.