Mount Benson Elementary School

PAC > Neighbourhood > Heritage > Wellington Athletic Park

Mount Benson School is located in the centre of one of the oldest townsites in British Columbia. Mount Benson School and its attendant neighbourhood park make up the oldest operating Elementary School site in British Columbia. The history and success of our school is intricately tied to both Robert and James Dunsmuir, two of the most significant figures in British Columbian history. Currently almost none of this history is celebrated.

Wellington Elementary Athletic Fields Park

As part of the BC150 celebrations, the PAC voted to support the Wellington Action Committee on the following projects on the heritage park school fields:

  • Officially Name the Park and provide a park sign.
  • Officially name the two fields "Dunsmuir & Diggle" after Dunsmuir & Diggle Ltd, who provided the land and buildings for the original school in 1874.Top field would be Dunsmuir.
  • Name and dedicate the larger Baseball diamond "Claxton" after Jimmy Claxton, the first Black baseball player to play "white" baseball after they introduced racial segregation.
  • Install a large City history sign with the history of the school on one side, and Dunsmuir & Diggle on the other side.
  • Install a smaller history plaque with information about the baseball player Jimmy Claxton, as well as information about the Multicultural and tolerant nature of Wellington at the time. (Asian workers being the exception.)

Timeline

The 133rd anniversary of the school site is in May 2008, and the goal is to dedicate the park at this time with a plaque installed.

The Jimmy Claxton dedication will be announced in February during Black History month, but installation will be done in conjunction with the larger project.

Park Location

Park History

  • 1874 Robert Dunsmuir of Dunsmuir & Diggle Ltd. provides land and buildings for a school in Wellington. The land isn't well marked and there was some confusion about the size of the property.
  • 1900 James Dunsmuir has shut down the mine, and various properties around Wellington are transferred to the Crown so that life can continue in Wellington. The school site is one of these properties. (title document)
  • 1942 Wellington School District is amalgamated. Affected communites are advised that trusts, buildings and land which they provided will remain under their control. Wellington begins turning its former school into an athletic centre.
  • 1944 Athletic Centre is burned down leaving only the community athletic fields.
  • 1949 Land acquired for a new school next to the neighbourhood athletic fields.
  • 1950 New School is opened and is renamed Mount Benson.
  • 1968 Town of Wellington amalgamates with city of Nanaimo. There is discussion of petitioning Crown to transfer title of Crown owned Parks, but this does not occur. Wellington residents oppose losing control of their neighbourhood assets.
  • ?? City of Nanaimo allows School board to rent out fields in community park.

About the Wellington Action Committee

Mount Benson PAC works with the Wellington Community Association through the Wellington Action Committee.

The Wellington Action Committee is a committee which advocates for projects which benefit the community at large. The Action Committee reports to both the Community Association and the PAC, and must have the full support of both before it can proceed on a project.

The rationale for the action committee is that every community has multiple community groups. Usually these groups are busy enough with their own work and do not have time to advocate or coordinate projects which involve community or city planning.

The Wellington Action Committee Mandates are:

  • Focus on projects which benefit to community at large
  • Ensure Neighbourhood groups support any projects which are undertaken.

When a non-neighbourhood group may be interested in a project, the W.A.C. will coordinate with those groups. For example, the Nanaimo African Heritage Society is working with the WAC on the Jimmy Claxton dedication of one of the baseball diamonds.


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