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School District 8 Historical Records uncovered

During the past 100 years of Nelson’s education history is being preserved, thanks to a lucky discovery at the School District 8 storage room at the Central Building. 

Staff were cleaning up the space and looking for a few historical photos to put on display. They had no idea, according to former Superintendent of SD8 Christine Perkins, that they would uncover a treasure trove of ephemera. 

“The importance of preserving the photographs and turn-of-the-century archival materials from the school district was evident the day the Board office moved into the Central School Building two years ago,” Perkins says.

“The room, however, is not conducive for preservation and we decided the local experts at Touchstones Nelson Museum would be the best care-keepers of these valuable historic documents.” 

Indeed, the items recovered were suffering from a century of storage and had some serious mold and pest issues. Jean-Philippe Stienne, Archivist and Collections Manager at the museum, along with a team of Archives Assistants, have been quarantining and freezing the entire collection to kill any hungry bugs. They are then thawing the collection before removing mould and rehousing the material in acid-free files and boxes. 

Contacting the museum was the right move, according to Stienne and Executive Director Astrid Heyerdahl. 

“The purpose of the archives at the Nelson Museum is to ensure that the tangible everyday history of Nelson and Area is saved for posterity” says Heyerdahl, “and that this history is freely accessible to all. We are thrilled that the team at SD8 recognized the importance of sharing this important history with our community.” 

The recovered items will help provide a glimpse into the day-to-day operations of the schools in Nelson over 100 years ago. The documents range in date from 1891 all the way into the early years of this century. Important records include student attendance records, school histories, photo albums and scrapbooks, architectural records, school board minutes and staff payroll records. "We have already found many gems and keep finding more.

The collections offer a remarkable record of the history of schooling in our area,” Stienne says. “We are delighted to safeguard this collection and make it available for researchers.” 

“The items provide rich resources for alumni, families, and researchers, into what education was like in the region and we did not want that to get lost,” added Perkins.  

The 50 bankers’ boxes worth of items will be available to researchers in the Shawn Lamb Archives once the cleaning and cataloguing are complete.

To make a research appointment, or to contact the Archivist to share your own discovered treasures, please email collections@touchstonesnelson.ca  

Photo Caption: A search of the archives uncovered a photo of the teaching staff at Central School in 1974-75. Some of the staff members include, back row, L-R, Ron Monty, Dave Pearce, Terry Tagami, John Olsen and name unknown. Front, name unknown, Marian Larusik, Joy Slater, Diane Penner, Fern Toivola and Mary Gris. — Submitted