The new George Elliot exhibit

George Elliot high school unveils exhibit to honour former teacher

The namesake of George Elliot Secondary School was a former teacher, athlete and community pioneer

Students attending George Elliot Secondary School in Lake Country won’t have to go far to figure out exactly who George Elliot was.

The Lake Country Museum and George Elliot Secondary School have unveiled a new exhibit at the school, taking a look at the man who the school is named after with the The George Elliot Story located at the school.

The exhibit includes photographs and personal items belonging to George Elliot including George’s wallet, professional teacher’s card and licenses, gym whistle, pen and notebook. The items on display were recently donated to the Lake Country Museum by the Elliot family.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to learn about local history; rather than just thinking of their school as a name, they now can learn about the man behind the name and the values he stood for,” said Lea. “We look forward to working with the Lake Country Museum through future projects.”

George Elliot was born in Paisley, Ontario in 1902 and moved to Vancouver when he was 12 years old. After completing his education, he taught in Mapes (Vanderhoof area) for six months before securing his position at Winfield Public School in 1923. The school had two classes, the junior grades 1 – 4 and senior grades 5 – 8. Elliot served as teacher and principal at Winfield Public School for 26 years, now home to the Lake Country Boys and Girls Club and community organizations.

George Elliot married Dorothy Monford of Kelowna in 1924. They had two sons, Alan and Doug, and the family lived in the teacherage beside the school for a number of years. Elliot shared his love of sports and fishing with his sons and took the boys fishing in Joe Rich during summers. In addition to his work as teacher and principal for the community, he was involved in many aspects of community service. He was a member of the Farmer’s Institute and he held the office of president and secretary of the Community Hall Board where he was instrumental in the building of the Winfield Memorial Hall. Elliot also organized the Eureka Branch of the Canadian Red Cross, the first in British Columbia.

Although George Elliot had asthma, he was a skilled athlete, a dedicated coach and umpire. He was one of the organizers of the Rural Schools Track Meets. He had a passion for baseball and was the captain of the local team for several years. It is said that he secured his job as teacher at the Winfield Public School when Tom Duggan, secretary of the school board, realized that he played baseball in Vancouver and would be an asset to the local team. Elliot also enjoyed playing badminton at the old Seaton Packinghouse.

In 1949, at the age of 48, George Elliot died during treatment of asthma in Kelowna General Hospital.

Derek Lea, Principal of George Elliot Secondary School, worked closely with the Lake Country Museum to develop the exhibit.

Lake Country Museum curator Dan Bruce said the school played a big part in getting the exhibit together.

“This is a significant exhibit for the museum and the school,” said Bruce. “George Elliot was instrumental in the community-building of Lake Country and the opportunity to present his history at the school now named after him has been incredibly rewarding. The museum especially thanks museum volunteer Karen Gibbons for designing the exhibit.”

The exhibit opening was hosted by George Elliot Secondary School Principal Derek Lea and staff, and attended by George Elliot’s son Alan (Kelowna), daughter-in-law Jean (Doug, d., Winfield), and grandchildren Jim (Winfield), and Dave and Audrey (Kelowna), museum staff and Directors, and Mayor James Baker.

For more information about the exhibit or local history, you can contact the Lake Country Museum at 250-766-0111 or go to the web site at www.lakecountrymuseum.com.

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