The Royal Oak Historical Association has dozens of old class photographs from the Royal Oak Schoolhouse (like this one from 1927)

OLD SCHOOL HISTORIANS: Saanich group archives decades-old school photos

Royal Oak Historical Association looks to identify students from decades ago

For Enid Bull and Daryl Foster, telling tales out of school never gets old.

The Saanich residents are two organizers with the Royal Oak Historical Association. Now in its second year, the project is devoted to a specific niche in Saanich’s history: identifying students in historical class photos from the Royal Oak Schoolhouse.

The project can be viewed online at royaloakschoolyard.blogspot.ca.

“Photos and students are from any school from the area, really, because students were shuffled around over the years, all the way to Mount Newton,” Bull said.

The project began in 2012, when the Royal Oak Schoolhouse building was refurbished for the umpteenth time since being erected in the 1870s, made ready for current tenant Crumsby’s Cupcake Cafe.

Historical photos of the school’s past began to circulate at the time. Some came with names of the students in the pictures, but most of the faces were unknown.

“A lot of names have come forward,” Foster said. The group is hoping that former students and longtime Saanich residents can provide assistance, putting names to faces in photos that are upwards of 80 years old.

The association acknowledges that a lot of the names may be hard to find. They know the people in the oldest photos are unlikely to be identified, which is why the majority range from the late 1940s to 1960s.

Each photo has a reference number in the top left corner for website visitors to use.

The association has picked up a lot of steam since its startup. Photos continue to find their way to the directors, and the group holds public meetings once a month. Each gathering features a guest who talks about their memories from days past in the Royal Oak or surrounding area. The topic is the speaker’s choice, and the talk is recorded on video and posted to the blog.

“Every topic at a gathering sparks 10 memories for those who come, that’s the only problem,” Bull said. “We oftentimes end up turning the chairs into a circle and just chatting away.”

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

• The Royal Oak Historical Association usually meets on the second Thursday of every month.

• The next meeting is from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, June 12 at the McCall Bros. Sequoia Gardens, 4665 Falaise Dr.

 

Pioneer family

Daryl Foster’s mom is from a pioneer family that moved to Royal Oak’s Pipeline Road in the 1900s. His dad was one of nine siblings, and Foster grew up with cousins including race car driver Billy Foster, and musician David Foster.

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