Darlene ‘Dar’ Hastings couldn’t wait to attend the new 100 Mile High when it opened in 1960.
She and her 10 classmates – the first graduating class at the new school – were so excited because the had spent the past few years in a one-room schoolhouse on the grounds of 100 Mile Elementary, due to lack of space. The old schoolhouse was heated by a wood furnace that the male students had to stoke to keep it going during the cold winter.
“Then when we got up there the first thing we noticed sitting on the lawn was that thing,” Hastings said, pointing at an old picture of the one-room schoolhouse. “Because they were still working on (the school).”
The upcoming demolition of the high school, which initially opened as a secondary school for the then-still growing town before becoming 100 Mile Junior, has triggered old memories and new emotions for Hastings and her friends Anne Pinkney and Jessie McCormack.
Hastings added another reason they were happy about the new school was that up until that point, students entering Grade 9 had to go to Williams Lake for school. Amongst these carloads of kids who’d drive up and stay in dorms for the school week were “boys that we really liked” she observed, which got a snicker from Pinkney and McCormack.
They all recalled that near the school there used to be a nice sandy swimming hole they would use in the summer, though Pinkney recalled a snake scaring her once or twice. McCormack observed that while the swim was refreshing, the incline you’d have to climb to get home would make you all sweaty and in need of a bath.
When the Noranda Mine came to 100 Mile House, the community really exploded in size and a dorm was built onto the school grounds for students to stay in. The school ended up being a blessing for the town, Hastings said, with students attending from 100 Mile House, Lone Butte and Forest Grove.
The three were disappointed and a bit sad that the school is slated for demolition, saying something should have been done after it was closed nearly 10 years ago and before it fell into disrepair. Pinkney would have liked to have seen the dorm building converted into a trades school, while Hastings said she’d hoped they’d move the elementary school into that building and build a seniors centre where 100 Mile Elementary School now stands.
“Stuff goes on but we don’t know why and nobody tells us,” said McCormack, who has lived here since 1956.
Still, they have their memories. Hastings, who has lived in 100 Mile since 1955, said even when they completed the gymnasium, they didn’t get much of a chance to use it and were instead really good at playing games outside. When she and Pinkney went to Clinton once to play basketball, Hastings added, they kept getting the whistle blown on them because that gym actually had the lines of a basketball court when theirs didn’t.
The old school also had a shooting range in the basement, Hastings said, and when McCormack’s son attended the school he was a member of the shooting club. At some point, however, McCormack said that somebody shot through the ceiling into the main school and that was the end of the shooting club.
After school, when not working at their after school jobs, the ladies recalled going to Pinkney’s house to dance in her dining room. McCormack mentioned that they used to go to the Shell Station where locals would perform live music and they’d dance at night. Back when the community hall was first built by their fathers, Hastings said they used to rollerskate and play tennis in it, while McCormack added they used to watch movies from benches with no backs.
“We had an outdoor skating rink, where the parking lot of Save On is now, and if you wanted to go skating you had to shovel the snow, otherwise you were in the snowbank,” McCormack said.
Pinkney, who has lived in 100 Mile since 1952, said while she and her husband have considered moving to the Okanagan once or twice, she’s very happy to be living in the community with their family and close friends nearby. She currently lives at the 108 Mile where she enjoys golfing.
“Our memories may not be a 100 percent active but we’re still here, aren’t we, and we’re enjoying the community,” Pinkney said.
McCormack echoed this sentiment saying there’s something about 100 Mile House that just “draws you in.”
“I would never move from here,” Hastings said. “I find this place like home and you can tell when you walk down the street when you nod at somebody and say hello you don’t know who they are but you know who they are. We can always tell when new people come here because they look away which is ok.”