1950The effects of the Baby Boom are acutely felt in many city school districts. Vancouver Superintendent of Schools, H. N. MacCorkindale, comments on the unprecedented number of births and the "very urgent need for the expansion of our school facilities" and urges the Department of Education to make "every effort to provide the necessary staff, buildings, and equipment to care for the proper growth and development of these children" -- i.e. the first wave of "baby boomers."

Notre Dame University College opens in Nelson, B. C. with an enrolment of twelve students. The college was established by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Nelson. In 1951 Notre Dame became affiliated as a junior college with Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, and in 1961 it became affiliated with St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. In 1963 it was constituted as a private university by a special charter of the provincial legislature.

1951 The first chills of the Cold War are evident in the provincial education system. In September 1951, a course of lectures on Civil Defence Affairs is organized at the Provincial Normal School in Victoria. The next year, the Department of Education issues a poster on what to do "If An Air Raid Comes Without Warning." "Get Under Your Desk - Move Fast!."

1952 W. A. C. Bennett and the Social Credit Party are elected (12 June) and form the provincial government. The Hon. Tilly Jean Rolston is appointed Minister of Education, and is the first female to hold this post. Twenty years will pass before another woman (Eileen Elizabeth Dailly) holds the Education portfolio.

In 1950, unrest in Doukhobor school districts in the Kootenays caused the government to appoint a Doukhobor Research Committee chaired by U. B. C. professor Harry B. Hawthorne. The committee's report, The Doukhobors of British Columbia, is published in 1952: it recommends that "a flexible program of studies be developed for use in areas resistant to education."

Doukhobor parents belonging to the Sons of Freedom sect still refuse to enrol their children in provincial schools and arson of schoolhouses continues.


1953 2 June: Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Many provincial schools and school districts hold special Coronation celebrations. Service clubs and civic organizations in several cities raise funds so that local students can attend the Coronation ceremonies in London, England. A women's service club, the I.O.D.E .[Imperial Order, Daughters of the Empire], presents Coronation Scholarships to provincial high school students.

3 June: W. A. C. Bennett and the Social Credit Party are returned to office, with a majority, in a provincial general election.  Tilly Rolston is reconfirmed as Minister of Education.

The provincial government launches a new campaign to enforce attendance of children in Doukhobor school districts. Non-compliant parents are arrested and their school-age children are sent to a former sanitarium in New Denver, which is converted into a school dormitory. The enforced separation of Doukhobour children from their parents continues until September 1959.

October: Education Minister Tilly Rolston dies.  Her portfolio is taken over by the Attorney General,  Robert Bonner, Q.C..

1954 April: Ray Williston is appointed Minister of Education.

The Department of Education is reorganized; some operations are consolidated and new administrative divisions are created. New divisions include the Community Programmes Branch, which assumes responsibility for a wide range of progammes dating from the 1930s, along with new initiatives. Lawrence ("Lawrie") J. Wallace, formerly a teacher and counselor at Victoria High School, is appointed director of the new branch.

September: British Columbia experiences a critical shortage of teachers. To meet the need for more teachers, the Department of Education initiates a recruiting campaign in Britain (which nets 65 teachers for the start of the 1955 school year). Campaigns to recruit British teachers will continue over the next decade.

Future Teachers Clubs are established in provincial high schools as a means of attracting more teachers into the system. Initially, 87 clubs are organized with a membership of about 1,600.

A Provincial Curriculum Advisory Board is established by the Minister of Education, Ray Williston. Lay members of the board include representatives from the agricultural sector, organized labour, and the business community. The Provincial Curriculum Advisory Board assists in drafting a mission statement for the Department of Education. The statement -- the first of its kind ever issued by the Department -- is entitled Aims of Education in British Columbia

Advent of the "television age."  The School Radio Broadcasts division demonstrates the first "school telecast" to a group of parents and school trustees in Victoria. 


1955 A Public Education Information Committee is formally established with represenatives from the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, the British Columbia School Trustees’ Association, and the British Columbia Parent-Teachers’ Association. The committee also includes representatives from the press and, representing the Department of Education, Philip J. Kitley, Director of British Columbia School Broadcasts.

The Committee’s task is to "find ways and means of providing information more effectively to the public about the education system in British Columbia." As a means to this end, the Committee sponsors a series of radio broadcasts on the C. B. C. and issues a bulletin promoting the work of local PTAs and endorsing "the principle of teacher-parent conferences."

1956 September: The Social Credit Party, led by Premier W. A. C. Bennett, is re-elected in the provincial election. Leslie Raymond Peterson, MLA for Vancouver Centre, is appointed Minister of Education, a portfolio he holds until May 1968.

British Columbia Centennial Committee is appointed, with Laurie J. Wallace as chairman. The executive committee includes an honoray secretary, (Willard Ireland, Provincial Archivist) and an honorary treasurer (Edwin Espley, Department of Education comptroller). The committee organizes a wide range of activities to be held during the summer and autumn of 1958. It also commissions a landmark study by Okanagan-born historian, Margaret A. Ormsby. British Columbia. A History is published by Macmillan Press in 1958 and remains the standard work on British Columbia for many years.

Teacher education is reorganized and given legislative sanction through amendments to the British Columbia University Act, the Public Schools Act, and the Victoria College Act.

Beginning in September 1956, all teacher education (elementary and secondary) is transferred from Provincial Normal Schools to a new College of Education. The College of Education operates as a faculty within the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and as a department of Victoria College in Victoria.

1957  ..
1958 A Royal Commission is set up on 17 January 1958 by Order in Council to "inquire into, assess, and report upon the Provincial educational system up to university level." The commission is chaired by Dr. Sperrin N. F. Chant, Dean of Arts and Science at the University of British Columbia.

February: the Public Schools Act and the Rules of the Council of Public Instruction are substantially revised. The revisions are said to be the most complete and far-reaching since the first Public Schools Act of 1872.

Teacher Recruitment. A new branch is established within the Department of Education to develop plans for recruiting teachers, to conduct research in matters of teacher-supply, and to promote Future Teachers Clubs in high schools. L. J. Wallace serves as branch director until November, when he is appointed Deputy Provincial Secretary.

In May 1959 Philip J. Kitley is appointed Co-ordinator of Teacher Recruitment. Kitley is not able to report any "positive signs to a relief from the chronic teacher shortage" until 1969, but even then "critical shortages still remained in Commerce, Home Economics, Instrumental Music, Special Education, French, and some other subjects" [Public Schools Report, 1969/70, p. G45].

British Columbia’s Centennial Celebrations culminate on Douglas Day, 19 November 1958. Douglas Day is commemorated in all provincial schools. Superintendent of Education J. F. K. English afterwards reports: "British Columbia’s centenary undoubtedly left a lasting impression upon the present generation of students, resulting in deep appreciation for the history and resources of the province." [Public Schools Report, 1958/50, p. Z34].

The British Columbia Vocational Institute opens in temporary facilities at Pacific National Exhibition grounds in Vancouver.  BCVI moved to a permanent site in Burnaby in 1960.

1959  ..