VIDEO: Schoolmarm gives tour of Langley’s Lochiel classroom circa 1924

Centennial Museum producing educational videos, the first of which stars local actress Diane Gendron

If anyone has ever wanted to time travel and see Langley in the 1920s, Centennial Museum is offering the next best thing to get a glimpse of the past.

The museum is producing educational videos in order to showcase certain aspects of Langley life – beginning with Lochiel schoolhouse in 1924.

Local actress and theatre producer Diane Gendron stars as a schoolmarm who takes the audience on a tour of the one-room class and how students would have gone about their daily lives.

“I started as one of the schoolmarms at Lochiel in December 2016. The program – a re-enactment of a 1924 school experience – has been offered by the Township of Langley through the Centennial Museum for many years,” Gendron recalled.

Gendron and Centennial staff member Shannon Macelli prepared the script – a shortened version of what is performed live during the annual re-enactment.

“Shannon set up the angles and filmed everything on her phone set on a tripod. We were filming for about four hours then Shannon went back to work and put it altogether,” Gendron explained.

Through the regular Lochiel program, children are given a glimpse of what school was like in the early 1900s. Gendron shared a few fun facts about the school, explaining children from Grades one to six would learn all subjects with one teacher.

READ MORE: Langley in the roaring 20s

“You would walk to school two, three, or four miles in all kinds of weather and you would walk home again in the pouring rain, freezing snow and in the blazing sun,” she added. “One of the first schools in this area was built in 1889 and it was called Bigger Prairie School. That school burned down and in 1924 this school, Lochiel School, was built to replace it.”

The Lochiel building was used for about 50 years in Langley until it was closed and it fell into disrepair. In 1988, the Langley Heritage Society decided they wanted to restore this building to the way it was when it was first built in 1924.

The building was put on flatbed truck and drove to Campbell Valley Park where it was restored to its original style – albeit several miles from its original location.

John Aldag, cultural services manager at the Langley Centennial Museum, said arts, culture and heritage sector has been front and centre over the past few weeks as Canadians and those around the world have found themselves in social isolation.

“Our museum team are playing one small part in helping our residents adjust to the new normal in which we can’t interact with each other the way we did even two months ago,” Aldag said. “While we hope to welcome guests back to the museum in the coming weeks, our team is learning to broaden our programs beyond the physical walls of the museum, which I expect will become part of our ongoing operating practices into the future.”

“The video was created at this time because children are at home and parents are looking for things to do with their children,” Gendron said. “This video gives them the opportunity to begin a discussion about school, learning, manners, rules, obedience, rural living, teachers, and how we live in our communities.”

This is the only video Gendron said she will be involved with, but shared that the museum staff are making videos of some of their other programs and they will be available soon.

“When school is back in session we will be delighted to, once again, offer the Lochiel Classroom Experience to school children from Langley and throughout the Lower Mainland,” Gendron said, adding that seniors – many that actually lived a similar experience to Lochiel – also come to experience the tour.

The video was shared on the Langley Township Youtube page, where more videos are expected to be uploaded.


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