A letter from Mr. Gerry Andrews, now retired at Victoria tells a little of the first school. Mr. Andrews was formerly the Director of the B.C. Surveys and Mapping Branch.
I initiated the Kelly Lake School, south of Tupper, in 1923, and stayed on there till the summer of 1925. Pouce Coupe village was our nearest outpost of civilization. I remember Frank Haskins store and George Hart was the liquor vendor. He built the hotel during that time. There was also the government agent and a detachment of the B.C. Provincial Police. The people at Kelly Lake were mostly Metis — Belcourts, Callious, Gauthiers, Gladues, LaTente, Payette, etc., and one of Scotch-Metis family, Milton Campbell. There were a few others whose names slip my memory. The women and children spoke only Cree, so my first task was to teach enough English to get started with the “Three R’s.” When I left, the children there had the reputation among itinerant fur buyers of speaking the best English in the country — better than their counterparts in surrounding settlements. The reason was mainly that they were not exposed to the slang and language corruption prevalent in white communities.
Old Justin E. (“Mac”) McIntyre of McLeod Lake was a longtime pal since 1924 when we restocked with grub at his store after packing horses over the Pine Pass from Kelly Lake and Tupper.
When at Kelly Lake, I batched with Jim S. Young, who bought furs and ran a store there. Jim was also on the pack horse trip referred to above. He later settled at Rose Prairie and married the first District Nurse up there. In 1950 he helped us hire saddle horses and a guide from a band of Indians camped at the Beatton River crossing, northeast of Peterson’s store. On this occasion, I remember the old Indian Chief there was called “Pouce Coupe”. Jim Young was highly regarded by the Indians and Metis, and I doubt if we could have got anywhere without his interceding on our behalf. He had his 87th birthday this month, and is still on the farm at Rose Prairie.
Note — for more information about Kelly Lake and Mr. Andrews’ time there as a teacher, see this book: Andrews, G.S. Metis Outpost. Victoria, B.C. [self-published], 1985.