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The first Kensington Prairie School was located on the corner of Mud Bay Road and Coast Meridian Road, (40th Ave., and 168th Street). The actual school building was built in 1887, on land donated by Edward Parr. This was a one–room school house with four rows of seats that held 20 to 30 students. It was supplied with drinking water by a barrel which caught rain water coming off the roof and was heated in winter with a cast iron stove burning cord wood.
Some of the early school teachers were: M.J. Matheson (1887), E.E. Morrison (1888), and Minnie Allan(1889). The school was opened in 1888 with 12 students attending, by 1889 attendance had increased to 15, and by 1890 the total enrollment reached 28. By 1890, the school still had one teacher by the name of Mary McDowell, who received a monthly salary of $50.

Carolina McLellan

Carolina McLellan taught at Kensington Prairie School during 1896-1897. The Public Schools annual reports for 1895–1896 and 1896–1897 show her as being the teacher at Kensington from 1896–1897, possibly for a year and a half. She was 25–26 years old and lived with her family in Blaine and initially walked the four and one half miles to and from school each day, until she arranged board with the Palmer Family after Spring Break. She kept a daily diary, part of which is reproduced here. It shows the daily life of a young school teacher and the highs and lows of classroom events. (see Schools to 1900: Kensington Prairie)

This diary and pictures were provided by Carolina McLellan's granddaughter Ms. Joyce Greenwood.

Carolina McLellan's family biography

Carolina McLellan was born in Guelph, Ontario, May 1, 1872 of mixed Scottish and English parentage: Angus McLellan and Anne Everdale. Angus McLellan's maternal grandparents, Donald Campbell (born 1751 on Islay, Inner Hebrides, Argyllshire, Scotland) and Anne Sinclair (born 1765, in Scotland) came to Canada in 1832 and are buried in the Boston Mill cemetery in Ontario (13 miles northwest of Brampton). The once thriving community no longer exists, only its well maintained cemetery remains.

For some reason, probably financial, Carolina's Angus, took his family of eight children back and forth across the 49th parallel several times. In the United States, he worked mainly in North Dakota where he had a small hotel, and later in the state of Washington. As well he worked in Vancouver, B.C. where he was a contractor and built the first Mount Pleasant School. On his death he was living on a small farm outside Walla Walla, Washington.

Carolina, after a stint with her two farmer brothers in North Dakota, decided teaching would be easier. She had a grade 8 education but trained as a teacher. The Teachers' Certificate Register for 1892-1894 [showing names of certified teachers, type of certificate earned, and results of certification exam] covering the period from 1894-1901 did not contain an entry. Carolina McLellan, however, was awarded a Second Class, Grade B certificate by the Board of Examiners on 31 July 1894. It is assumed she then proceeded to teach in small country schools.

According to page 32 of the The Surrey Story by G. Fern Treleaven, published by the Surrey Museum and Historical Society, 1978. Carolina McLellan taught at Kensington Prairie School, circa 1896-97. A photograph of Carolina and her class was mounted on one of the walls of the Surrey Museum. Apparently, when she taught in Surrey she boarded at home with her family, who were then living in Blaine, Washington. It is told, each morning she would walk across the border the five miles to and from school until she arranged board with a local family.

In early 1897, in New Westminster, BC, Carolina married David Griffith Williams, a widower. They had ten children and settled in Vancouver until 1915 when they moved to Prince George, BC. Carolina passed away on November 10, 1937.

The diary begins with a series of teacher reminders to assist Miss McLellan with her daily lessons

Value of Notebooks
  1. Writing down a fact always impresses it on the memory.
  2. It makes a thought definite and clear.
  3. It tends to aid in the classification of thought and so far systematizes out knowledge.
  4. It harmonizes our ideas and enables us to reach correct results.
  5. Having received good plans it enables us to follow them out.
  6. It retains for us good thoughts otherwise lost.
  7. A notebook is valuable because it pigeonholes our knowledge.

Learning by Questions, Page, Lessons.


Questions on writers

Questions on the picture.


Carolina McLellan and students

Carolina McLellan is centered in this picture possibly surrounded by some of her students. This picture is not of Kensington Prairie students.

1896 class 1896 class names

Miss McLellan kept a daily diary of events in the classroom. A segment is reproduced here.

Teacher's daily record.

Monday, Feb 1 [1897]

Will (Brown) and Fred (Johnson) laughed immoderately. Wilbert was good but Rose (Thrift) was away which may account for it. This disorderly laughter has a bad effect on the school. I will change Fred's seat.

Tuesday 2

By means of a lecture in which the trustees name was mentioned, and removing Fred, better order was maintained. The new boy is being infected with Fred's spirit.


A fairly good day. Wilbert caused a little trouble wrestling with Fred & Albert and I kept him in.

Thursday 4

A calm before the storm. Everything went smoothly until after three o'clock when Wilbert and Will [Brown] had a quarrel and came to blows. I have written Mr. Wilder.

Friday 5 [1897]

Mr. Wilder came and we had a conference. I have promised to keep Will Brown apart from the others as much as possible, and if there is further trouble he will be sent home. He interfered with Wilbert.

Mon March 14 [1897]

All the big boys left last week on account of the spring work. I only had five today so everything was quiet.

Tues 15

Nine pupils including a new boy who seems very quiet. Gustave got through his work in one half the usual time. Albert failed in his geography and instead of keeping him in I heard the lesson during writing time, which was wrong, as Rose [Thrift] was kept in for spelling and she objected to Albert going free. 2nd mistake, allowing one pupil to speak to another who was detained after hours.

16 Wed

A good day. I had two visitors.

Thurs 17

Albert had a disturbance with the others. I kept them in, and sent a note to his aunt.

Friday 18

Fred and Albert forgave and forgot their tiff.

Mon 21

Everyone fairly good. Gustave and Charlie must have something more to occupy their time. Mary Thrift gets restless occasionally. I have been trying to impress upon the minds of the second Grammar & Geography class that they must remember where the lessons are from one day to the next.

Tuesday 22

A good day.

Wednesday 23

Fred and Albert hurt Charlie. I kept them in to write 10 lines. There was great indignation.

Thursday 24

The Johnson's and Gustave did not come and I had only 7 so Gustie and I rode up to see them and found Grace [Johnson] had caught a cold from wet feet and the boys did not come for no definite reason.

Friday 25

The children were all back. The evil spirit among those children that has descended into them from their fathers is constantly springing up like the dragon who having one his heads cut off another would spring up in its place.

Monday 28

The children were all good except Mary Thrift. I long to do that child some permanent good. It is a pleasure to teach her she is so bright; but occasionally she gets into a sullen mood that is most trying. This was one of her worst days. Charlie and Gustave both stood in the corner to-day also Mary Thrift and Albert.

Tuesday 29

The chief trouble today was at the opening and dismissal of school. Mary Thrift was in one of her meek moods to-day.

Wednesday 30

A pleasant day. I'm learning when to smile in the schoolroom without damaging my dignity. Fred is doing splendidly at his lessons.

Thursday 31

I kept up my average for ... [word undecipherable], I am profoundly thankful. I vow I will have better order during the dismissal and opening of the school. I heard Mary and Rose [Thrift] recite at recess to-day in order to insure it for tomorrow.

Friday 1

I had only six. We had a good day. There was improvement and everyone went home happy.

Monday 4

A fairly good day. Charlie fell into the creek. After school I went to Palmers to arrange about board. I am going there after the Easter Holiday.


A good day. Mary Thrift pricked Gustave with a pin and had to stand in the corner although we all had to have a good laugh except Gustave.

Wednesday 6

About three o'clock this afternoon everything seemed to have wrong. I then discovered that I had allowed the classes to run behind or take too much time up, consequently the trouble.

Thursday 7

About the same time to-day things began to go wrong again. I wasn't a bit behind with classes so I came to the conclusion it was the children's fault that time and whipped two of them, Mary [Thrift] & Grace [Johnson].

Friday 8

I allowed a free discussion on two different points and it led to trouble. The children are not far enough advanced to be allowed much liberty in that respect.

Monday 11

A good day. Etta Thrift came.

Tuesday 19

Opened school after a week's vacation. Mary Thrift was extremely trying.

Wednesday 20

The Thrifts did not come so we had a quiet day. The Nelsons came back yesterday.

Thursday 21

Today I had a pleasant reminder of last winter's occurrences. The Thrifts and Johnson's had such hot discussions that it was almost impossible to stop them. Finally just as school was called Mary [Thrift] & Grace [Johnson] came to blows and Rose [Thrift] and Fred [Johnson] took a hand in it, and the usual scene had been gone wrong before order was restored.

Monday 25

Rose Thrift got into a tantrum this morning at recess. By keeping cool myself and sending her to the board to do her work instead of at her seat where she could shirk it, she came gradually out of it, and by half-past eleven the sunlight came back to her eyes, and dispelled the clouds from her brow until everything was clear again. I'm not sure if the metaphor is a good one but it was what the case looked like to me.

Wednesday 27

A good day with thirteen present. Mary T. and Albert made some disturbance.

Monday May 2

Mary Thrift had another tantrum. Patience and firmness brought her out of it.

Monday 9

Mary's tantrum lasted until Friday when she became perfectly angelic. She and Rose are not here to-day. The other eleven are though.

Thursday 12

Things went in a medium sort of way, nothing particular happened. Fred accused Albert of telling a falsehood about Gustave's marks and vowed he would not sit with him; he did however.

Friday 13

Agnes dampened all the chalk dust surrounding the blackboard with tears shed on account of a mis-spelled word, and vainly argued the case with me, but I was hard and unrelenting. Rose and Fred failed ignominiously in the addition exercise while their respective younger sisters came off with flying colors. Behind the shelter of the stove pipe they drew up a treaty of defiance toward me and a boycott against addition exercises in general, and that one in particular. This however they failed to keep although it was stubbornly contested.

Thursday 19

"You are a little too well acquainted with your scholars."

Friday 20, Discipline

Albert turned his head to speak to Fred at 9.15. I spoke to him. A moment later he turned again, evidently to finish his communication. He was sent to the corner. R. ate during recess twice when she and others were detained. She lost two marks. The little boys read wretchedly this morning. They were drilled this afternoon. Anti-discipline Rose objected to come to the front or rather objected to her entire spelling lesson since I partly gave way to her by hearing her lesson at her seat.

Wednesday 25

Albert decided disturbance. Mary Thrift went home at noon because I whipped her on her hurt hand. Rose threatened rebellion this afternoon but was quelled.

Monday 30

A quiet day. The children were quite pleased with their dialogues. Everything has been quiet since Mrs. Thrift wrote me that letter.

Tuesday 7 June

Rose brought her report this morning signed. There was a battle to get it however.

Saturday 25 June

School closed yesterday. I had fifteen visitors. The children did well on the whole. Mary Thrift failed her recitation however and Nettie G. came very near it. The rest went off all right. Maggie Brown was there and had a little discussion on the Honor rolls which were certainly a little difficult to distribute properly.

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