Lucerne School History
Like most other schools, in small towns, Lucerne was once a one room school. Upon it’s opening, in 1894, there were 24 pupils.
The schoolhouse was a modest church style building with a large bell at the top of the steeple that would ring every day at the start of classes.
From 1903-1950, there was a sudden growth in population that forced the school officials to add-on to the existing schoolhouse, renovating it from the original one room building to a two storey structure.
From 1955-1979, the school officials renovated Lucerne once more. Retaining its two storey height, the school was made about twice as long with a flat roof and large windows facing southward. Also the road outside was paved reducing dust.
At the present time, Lucerne boasts 96 students and an average high school class size of 10 students. Due to small classes, the student’s learning is above average, boosting award opportunities and scholarship chances.
The new school has a pink brick facade and the central part of the roof has been arched to give the library a cathedral style ceiling.
New Denver History
Lucerne’s home is New Denver, B.C., a town founded in 1892 by mining prospectors. As with many mining towns of that era, merchants and businessmen soon showed up, establishing stores, hotels, and other ventures that built the financial backbone that kept New Denver going even after the mining slowed. With this financial stimulation, it wasn’t long before New Denver became the government services hub for the entire Slocan Valley. Unfortunately, the mining boom was short lived, and by 1920 it was virtually over.
The area was calm for a while, but that peace was shattered by the dual events of World War II and the attacks on Pearl Harbour. While many were out fighting in the trenches of war, the attack on Pearl Harbour changed the area in a way no one could have predicted. When the attack occurred, Japanese residents of BC were declared enemy aliens, and subsequently stripped of their civil rights. While most of the able men (aged 18 to 45) were sent to labour camps in eastern Canada, the women, children, and elderly or disabled men were sent to internment camps all over BC. One of these internment camps was right here in New Denver, and the area of town now called “The Orchard” was home to approximately 2,000 Japanese until the end of the war. Despite being moved here against their will, many of the interned Japanese chose to remain here after the war, and to this day still live here.
After the tumultuous events of WWII and the internments ceased, it was back to business in New Denver. There was a brief revival of the mining industry in the 1940s, but it quickly died off and gave way to logging. To this day, logging remains among the few profitable industries in the valley.
Modern New Denver is a diverse community, with occupations ranging from logging to environmentalism, and everything in between. Local stores offer everything from groceries and movie rentals to home-made crafts, and we are sustained financially by healthy industries of logging and tourism.