After a tour of the area early in 1915 by Inspector Gower, three government-funded teachers were sent here. The teachers arrived in August and the schools opened in September of that year. Mr. Cameron had the school in Rolla, Miss Ligertwood opened the Saskatoon Creek [Kilkerran] school and Mrs Fairman took the Dawson Creek school. The Dawson Creek school was located where the Cedar Lodge Motel is now, but of course there was no town of Dawson Creek at the time — the school was in the middle of a growing farming district.
Another of the earliest schools was the Pouce Coupe Central School, built in 1918 to replace an old shack near Normack’s Lake. The Pouce Coupe Central School was not in the town of Pouce Coupe — it was, though, centrally located on the Pouce Coupe Prairie. Even earlier, in 1916, a school had been built in the Landry area and that building continued to be used as a school until 1948. The Dawson Creek School, the Pouce Coupe Central School and the Landry School have all been preserved and are located at the Walter Wright Pioneer Village where the Landry School building has a new life as the Mile One Cafe. The old Pouce Coupe Central School is being developed as an education museum by the Peace River South Retired Teachers’ Association.
Government funding for schools was never very generous. Each new school received a grant of $50 to cover the cost of the building, essential equipment and minimum supplies. The buildings were usually built of logs with a very few small windows, a pot-bellied stove, a water pail and two outhouses. In many cases, an icehouse was needed because there was no good drinking water nearby. To stay in operation, the school had to have 10 students on the roll with six of them attending fairly regularly. It was not unusual for a school to borrow students or to enroll underage students to keep the school open.
In 1934, there were more than 60 rural schools in the Peace River Block, each with its own elected Board of Trustees. The provincial government consolidated most of the small rural districts into a new Peace River Rural School District. This new district, under an appointed Trustee, took in all the former districts with the exception of Dawson Creek, Fort St John and Rolla. Consistent and uniform funding along with free medical and dental services for students were benefits of the consolidation, but many rural residents felt they had lost control of the education of their children and opposed the plan vigorously.
By 1942, there were 49 one room rural schools in the Peace River Block along with 10 schools offering high school level instruction to a total of nearly 1400 students. The number of rural schools had dropped to 26 in Peace River South by 1959 and the last one room school closed it’s doors in the mid-1960’s when the McLeod School opened. Today, there are only about 20 schools in total in the district, ranging in size from the new two-classroom school at Moberly Lake to South Peace Secondary in Dawson Creek with 41 teachers on staff.