Group campaigning to salvage 1893 Malahat School building

“It’s one of the few historical buildings left in Shawnigan, and one of the oldest,” said Elijah Fraser, who hoping to save the building.

The Malahat School building has stood in its location at the corner of Shawnigan Lake Road and Malta Road since the late 19th century, and a small group of area residents is hoping it will stay there much longer.

“It’s one of the few historical buildings left in Shawnigan, and one of the oldest,” said Elijah Fraser, spokesperson for the group hoping to save the building.

The original building was erected in 1893, and a second structure was added in 1916. One or both of the buildings was in use until the 1950s, when Elsie Miles School was built and named for a former teacher at the Malahat School. The Catholic diocese bought it at that time and amalgamated the two buildings, turning it into the Our Lady Queen of the World Catholic Church.

It was in use as a church until June of this year when the congregation was combined with that of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Mill Bay.

The building was sold to Mark Osmond, the owner of the Black Swan Pub next door, who wants to use the space where the parking lot is located to build a larger liquor store as part of a long-term plan for his site.

Osmond has offered to sell the building for $1 to anyone who wants to move it off the site, but Fraser’s group is hoping to find a way to keep it where it is. The group believes it could function as a community hall. It has a large meeting space upstairs, and a kitchen and bathrooms and smaller meeting space downstairs.

“We’ve talked to a few community groups to see who has interest in using it,” Fraser said, naming the Shawnigan Scouts, Young Seniors Action Group, and Shawnigan Lake Historical Society as some of those groups.

“The space has been used until recently, so our hope is that if it is used for a similar purpose, we won’t have to do too much,” he added.

Osmond doesn’t agree, and feels it would be too costly to bring the building up to standards. His preference would be to move it, and he has been contacted by multiple parties who are interested in buying it for $1 and taking it away. “That’s what I’d like to do,” he said. “I don’t really want to take it down.”

Osmond is willing to consider leaving it where it is if that works out.

“We’re looking at all the options,” he said. “We haven’t got any set plans in the short term, but our long-term plan is to have the liquor store there.”

Fraser hopes the building doesn’t have to be moved. Relocating it would decrease some of the historical value, and the building would lose the lower floor where all the amenities are. A move would not be cost-effective, and could put the structure in jeopardy.

Fraser has multiple personal reasons to hope the building is preserved. His wife’s family has been in the Shawnigan Lake area “for generations,” he said, and his own family were members of the church.

“I have a love for old buildings,” he added. “And even if this one isn’t architecturally significant, it is certainly an important landmark in the area. A lot of people have memories of that building: weddings, baptisms, funerals.”

Anyone interested in helping preserve the Malahat School building is encouraged to attend a meeting on Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Shawnigan Lake Museum. RSVP to malahatschool1893@gmail.com

Just Posted

Mariah Segee (centre) was named 2021 Lady of the Lake last Saturday, with Megan Rowbottom (left) as first princess, and Macey Anderson (right) as second princess. (Submitted)
Lady of the Lake returns to Lake Cowichan

Mariah Segee takes the crown in first pageant since 2018

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Bay man’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

Threads N Tails owner Lee-Ann Burke’s pet clothing has been featured on the cover of the June/July issue of Pet Connection Magazine. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan business featured on magazine cover

Lee-Ann Burke hopes the extra publicity will increase sales

North Cowichan’s senior environment specialist Dr. Dave Preikshot (pictured) said there’s a wide spectrum of views on carbon credits. (File photo)
Carbon credits expected to be part of discussions around forest reserve

North Cowichan acknowledges wide range of views on issue

Blue Moon Marquee from Duncan will be featured at the 2021 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival on June 28. (Submitted)
Blue Moon Marquee to play Vancouver Jazz Festival

What’s coming up in the A&E scene

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Most Read