Former students gathered to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the South Poplar one-room schoolhouse.

Former students gathered to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the South Poplar one-room schoolhouse.

South Poplar one-room schoolhouse could be preserved

Former Abbotsford students celebrated 80th anniversary last week, sharing memories of a time gone by.

When Helen Singer remembers her days at the South Poplar one-room schoolhouse, she recalls that the students had a lot of fun, while learning the value of hard work.

Over 60 years later, Singer and other former students gathered last week to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the school, and share memories of their time in Abbotsford’s only remaining one-room school.

When Singer attended in the 1950s, the school was heated by a wood-burning stove and had no running water. Students were given chores to do, including fetching wood and water and cleaning the chalkboards.

The schoolhouse is located at the corner of Huntingdon and Gladwin roads, adjacent to the South Poplar Traditional School. When it opened on Jan. 11, 1933, it was the only school in the area. In the 1950s, the new South Poplar school opened and many of Singer and her classmates moved on to other schools. But, the students still make a point to gather and share memories of learning together in the classroom.

“It’s lovely to see the kids that have come out of South Poplar and see them 50 years later… and see how well they did.”

Singer hopes that the building can be preserved and opened to the general public, giving adults and kids a like a chance for a glimpse into the past.

“It is so important to preserve this school.”

The MSA Museum has proposed to do just that, with plans to move the building to the MSA Museum site at Trethewey House on Ware Street. They hope to restore the building to its original design. The museum will include the building as part of the future Discovery Village project.

The Discovery Village proposal features a 7,000-square-foot “discovery centre” and a 3,000-square-foot covered stage encompassing much of the museum’s Mill Lake property.

David Sahlstrom, director of development for the MSA Museum Society, said a schoolhouse is an integral part of the plan to bring heritage buildings to the site.

“It has been identified by the community that it needs to be preserved.”

In 2012, the Abbotsford board of education agreed to donate the school to the museum society, which will be beginning fundraising efforts to move the building to the site and begin restoration.

For more information or to donate, contact the MSA Museum Society at 604-853-0313 or email info@msamuseum.ca. To learn more about the MSA Museum, visit www.msamuseum.ca.