This photo was taken about 1937/38 of the first Blucher Hall School and students. (L-r) Bert Ash, George Ash, Hazel Bigham, Tom Stuart, a boy from Forest Lake, John Jackson, Norma Pawloff, Ada Stewart, Kathy Pawloff, Nora Jackson, Agnes Pawloff, Leta Trail, and Marjorie Stewart. (N.T. Museum Archives photo)

Valley Voices From The Past: First Blucher Hall School lost to fire in 1939

The community of Blucher Hall, now integrated into the general Squam Bay and Upper-Louis Creek area, has been its own small settlement since the 1820’s.

The first Blucher Hall School was built in 1927-28 because the children were going to school in a cabin that was so cold they were moved to the top of the George Sheepway home for their lessons. The school’s first teacher, Miss May Shoove, boarded with the Sheepways.

Peter Pawloff, son in law of George and Agnes Sheepway, kindly donated the land for the school which was situated about half a mile from his farm house on the east side of the road. The new school was a 24×30 foot log building with plenty of windows on one side to provide light.

Donald ‘Cap’ Fraser, with seven men from the community, helped to construct the school, and once finished it was a sturdy log building with 13 students starting lessons there.

Unfortunately, just over 10 years later, this small rural community suffered a heavy loss the afternoon of June 28, 1939, when their school house was destroyed by fire on the last day of the school year.

An article in the Kamloops Sentinel that ran on July 4, 1939, stated. “George McNight, who was hauling ties, noticed smoke issuing from the roof in the vicinity of the chimney. Believing the children and teacher were still inside the building he hastened to offer his assistance. But finding the door locked and the building filled with smoke and flames he decided the best thing to do was to hurry to the nearest telephone and report the fire. From H. Noble’s ranch he telephoned O. Mason.

“Then in the company of Mr. and Mrs. Noble, and Miss Alice Noble, Mr. McNight returned to the school in the vain hope some of the contents could be saved. Mrs. Pawloff, Agnes and Irving, reached the schoolhouse a little later, having noticed the billowing smoke from their home. But the flames were too fierce, nothing could be done.”

In September of 1939 the children were able to start school in another old log cabin a little north of where their original school had been and on the opposite side of the road.

This site was also where the second Blucher Hall School was built, and this time it was a wooden structure of lumber. It was also closer to the creek and provided easy access to water.

~ Find more North Thompson Valley History by going to the Facebook Page: Barriere History, or clicking on: the ‘Exploring Our Roots’ history book

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