Prairie Schools


There was no shortage of schools in the early days in the area surrounding Innes Corners. In fact, if you drew a triangle from Langley City east to Murrayville, then north on Johnston Townline Road (216) to Milner, south along Glover Road to your starting point, you would have a relatively small area which by 1915 had included ten schools (two Prairie schools, three Langley Prairie schools, two Milner schools, two Belmont schools, and one Glencoe school). 


When Langley Municipality was incorporated on April 26,1873, there was one school operating. This was Langley School, which had opened in 1867 in Fort Langley. There was nothing in the present Langley City, except the Innes Corners junction, named after Adam Innes, an early settler. 

Langley Prairie's first school was made possible by the Public Schools Act of 1872, which permitted the establishment of a local School District in communities with at least fifteen children aged 5 to 15 years. Grants were given for construction and teacher salaries. An elected board of School Trustees administered the funds, but personnel management remained a provincial responsibility. 

Prairie School was opened on April 1,1875, at the northwest corner of Langley Trunk Road (Glover Road) and Yale Road, approximately where the Hong Kong Bank of BC (now on the northeast corner of Glover Road) is located. Thomas Henry Cudlip and James Anthony Clarke donated half an acre of land for the school. Adam Innes, Thomas Henry Cudlip, and John Coulthard were the members of the School Board, and Coulthard's daughter, Florence, was the first teacher, receivingan annual salary of $150. Despite the vast attendance boundary, which stretched to the American border, it was difficult to get enough students to keep the school open. In an 1876 report, the Superintendent said that "a school population of 13, an annual attendance of 8, and an average of 6, are entirely too few to warrant an annual expenditure of $645.25". The building was used for church services and political meetings. The school burnt down during the winter of 1880-1. School continued in a room of Adam Innes' house while a new school was being built, presumably on the same site. 


This second Prairie School struggled to get enough students to remain open, but the trustees finally gave up the struggle, and the school was closed permanently in 1885. Even the teachers had difficulty finding accommodation and moved from house to house. Teacher A. McKenzie complained that he could not even read in the evenings as coal oil lamps were "too expensive in a farming district". Teachers usually only stayed for one year at most. Sometime around 1892 or 1893, the Order of the Immaculate Conception bought the Prairie School from the provincial government and moved it south across the Yale Road to Michaud's hay field, where it was used as a Catholic Church until 1925. In that year, it was moved up Yale Road and converted into a store. 


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When the second Prairie School was closed in 1885, the name Prairie School was transferred to a new school on the Townline Road between Milner and Murrayville. This school was built on the south bank of the Nicomekl River, on the west side of Townline Road (216) on property donated by the John Beaton McLeod family. The school remained as the Prairie School until 1907, when it was renamed Langley Prairie School. The attendance boundaries stretched from the Yale Road to two miles north of Milner. Bob Plaxton was the teacher from 1892-1897, Garfield King (1900-01), Sam Wark (1901-03), and Elsie Plaxton (1903-05). It is interesting to note that Garfield King was dismissed from the school because he refused to use the rod on the Morrison children who had chased the Mufford sheep after school (see letter from G. King to A.K. Thompson in 1956 as quoted in N. Sherritt's notes). 

In 1910, the junction of Langley Trunk Road and Townline Roads was named Milner. Since the Langley Prairie School was closer to Milner than Langley Prairie, the School Board renamed the school Milner School. The school was moved north to Milner and set up on a site on the east side of Townline Road, next to Moir's Blacksmith Shop. Here it served for a couple of years until a new Milner School was opened in 1913. Teachers at the Milner School included Miss I. V. Currie (1910-11), Miss Janet Rankin (1911-12), and Miss Jennie Estey (November, 1912-June, 1913). Miss Estey moved to the new Milner School in 1913. 


In 1895, a new school was built on the southeast corner of New McLellan Road(200) and the Hunter Road (56). It was typical of schools at the time in that one room was staffed by a single teacher who taught all grade levels. Irene Clapp was one of the original teachers at Langley Prairie No. 1. Because of confusion over the names, the School Board in 1907 renamed the school as Glencoe School, and named the school on Townline Road as the Langley Prairie School. The Glencoe School served the area from 1907 to 1915 when the present Langley Prairie was built. 


In 1915 when the first BC Electric Interurban train came through, the train station was named Langley Prairie and Innes Corners faded away. When a new school was built in 1915 on land donated by the Logans, on the south side of Yale Road (20060 Fraser Highway), it consisted of two rooms with a basement underneath and the first covered play area in the municipality. In 1920 the southern section of the school was added. The building had several renovations over the years, including a changed entrance, storage facilities, a closed-in basement, gas heating, fire escape stairs, and washrooms.

In the 70s, a new building was built south of the old school with more classrooms, a library, activity room (gym), and an office. 

Alice Brown attended Glencoe School, and then Langley Prairie when it was first built. Later she returned to teach in this school and was its principal for 18 years. She then became district librarian and retired after 45 years teaching in Langley. Alice Brown Elementary is named after her. 

After more than 60 years as a regular elementary school, the school was designated as a fundamental school in the 80s, but in 1995 was closed when a new fundamental school opened in Langley. It is now used for continuing education programs and Apex. 

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