Mount Benson Elementary School

Pictoral History

Mount Benson School is the third public elementary school to serve Wellington from its existing site.

With at least 132 years of public school education, the Mount Benson / Wellington School site is the oldest known operating school site in British Columbia.

Text Timeline

Enrolment History (incomplete).


Doctor Alfred Robson Benson was the physician for the Hudson's Bay Company fort at Nanaimo, and then for the Vancouver Coal company which took over the Hudson Bay Company's Nanaimo Mine. In 1859 Mount Benson, which was located "not far" from Nanaimo was renamed "Mount Benson" by Captain Richards of Her Majesty's surveying vessel the Plumper. Also in 1959, Dr. Benson was elected to the provincial legislature for Nanaimo. At the time there was only one qualified voter in Nanaimo, and that one vote went to Dr. Benson.


Wellington Public School was opened in 1875, and destroyed by fire on August 19, 1904. This is either the original schoolhouse, or its replacement. (At the time of the fire, the New York Times reported the school had 8 rooms.)


Looking over at Old Wellington from New Wellington.

New Wellington was the townsite, and old Wellington was the lands which remained under the control of Dunsmuir & Diggle Co. New Wellington was created because Dunsmuir would evict and banish families from his land if they went on strike making them destitute since all the land was owned by Dunsmuir's company. The gov't of BC purchased 80 acres from Dunsmuir & Diggle to create a townsite which was not subject to Dunsmuirs control and to provide a place for evicted families to live. Today the old Island highway and the E&N Railway separate Old Wellington from the New Wellington Townsite. Wellington Public School was located in old Wellington, just outside of the new Townsite.

1905 circa

South Methodist Church located on Victoria Street is used as a temporary school while Wellington Elementary is being rebuilt.

1906 circa

New Wellington Elementary School opens on the same site. It was originally built as a one room school house, but had an addition put on later to make it two rooms. With only two rooms the school had limited space, so students would sometimes be turned away or forced to wait until they were older.

Here it is shown after it has had a second room added. Two rooms allowed for 3-4 grades per classroom, which 100 years later, is similiar to the English program at schools like Quarterway which have 3 grades per classroom.

This School was destroyed by fire in 1944.


Since Dunsmuir & Diggle Ltd. provided the land and buildings, the top field has served the community for sporting and community events. As a heritage neighbourhood park the land is owned by the crown, and over the years has been maintained by the Wellington Community, City of Nanaimo and more recently, School District 68.


Volunteers from Wellington build a new community hall. Once complete, it was used as a temporary school for classes when Mount Benson Elementary School could hold no more. The hall was used to teach grade 6 in 1956, and later Kindergarten.

The hall is still owned and operated by the Wellington Community Association for the Wellington neighbourhood.


Grade 1 class photo at the front doors of Mount Benson School


Thank you to the community members who have provided historical information and details, as well as to the Nanaimo Community Archives.

Site Map
Mount Benson Elementary School
4355 Jingle Pot Road, Nanaimo, BC, V9T 5P4, Canada - (250) 758-1536