In August of 1899, the Trustees of the Hammond School District met to select a site for a school. Mr. John Callaghan was elected chairman and Mr. A.L. Lazenby was elected secretary-treasurer. Two sites were put forward – the lower end of Mr. Hammond’s property and Harris’ Hill. It was decided to put the matter to a vote of the citizens of the community and September 9 was the date set. The result of the poll was 25 votes for the Hammond property and only 15 for Harris’ Hill and so the Hammond property was declared selected.
Peter McTavish was hired as the first teacher and the Trustees bought him a broom, a saw, an axe and cordwood and opened the school in a rented building for five months while the proper school building was constructed. By the time the school opened, the population had grown to 40 children – a lot for one teacher to handle, considering they were in all grades. The community applied to Victoria for a raise for the teacher to recognize this fact but it was turned down. Later the community itself voted for a local assessment to raise the teacher’s salary and improve the grounds.
That original school was soon outgrown and when replacement time came, the argument of the site arose again. However, the original site was retained and a new building constructed in 1912. The accompanying sketch shows the school grounds as planned for in 1912. Note the widely separated play areas for boys and girls. Also of interest is the combined woodshed and outdoor toilets behind the school building and the large school garden beyond that. Hammond School competed with other schools in the district on the state of the garden and quality of its produce. The children came back during the summer to keep the garden watered and weeded.
The 1912 building remained a part of the school which expanded around it. It lasted through the school’s centennial in 1999 when it was determined that a new school was needed. There was a lengthy conversation over moving vs demolition but when structural engineers examined the building they found 7 different roofs under the current one and it was clear that the patchwork building could not be moved.
It was demolished in 2000 and the new Hammond Elementary opened on the same site in February of 2001.