The school was built in 1927 in response to community needs. It apparently has a Fairview connection. In 1979, pioneer Oliver resident, Arthur McCuddy was reported as saying. “He thought the Golden Gate Hotel was torn down and used to build a school at Testalinda and later moved a second time to Osoyoos, where it still is as far as I know”. This sounds very probable because in the 1920’s much of the lumber from abandoned structures located around Fairview, was salvaged and utilized for building projects in the Oliver area.
The Testalinda School was an important part of that community for many years. Don Corbishley and Elsie Boone were members of the first Testalinda School Board. The teachers would often board with local residents. Six of the fourteen teachers who taught there were boarded by Harvey and Elsie Boone. Many of the teachers were young “city kids”, just out of Normal School.
Harvey Boone’s father was a millwright with expertise in building stamp mills for mines. They moved to Midway from Washington State in 1896 and in 1902 the family moved to Fairview for employment purposes. When employment in Fairview became more difficult to find, the family took up a 320 acre pre-emption of bench land near Fairview and operated a farm.
Harvey Boone was a prominent builder and an orchardist living in the Testalinda District with his wife Elsie in the 1920’s. In 1934 Harvey was responsible for adding a second room, a new entrance and a woodshed to the school.
John Boone, Harvey and Elsie’s son, prepared a document that includes the names of all of the teachers, the class size for each grade, etc., from the Provincial Archives in Victoria. He did this for a Testalinda School reunion in 1996. This information is available at the O.D.H.S. Archives.
After the school was closed, different sections of the structure were moved to Osoyoos and Cawston. I was curious as to the precise location of this school, so several years ago I asked the late Jean Evans, a very knowledgeable local historian and a former student the Testalinda School, to show me where it was situated. It was located on what is now private property, about two kilometers south of the creek, west of the highway.
The school name was definitely Testalinda but it is not so obvious with the name of the creek. The Provincial Government calls it Testalinden Creek while most locals (including me) call it Testalinda Creek.
In my review of local history I have come across many different spellings and names for this creek. The first two I believe are directly from the Okanagan Sylix language. These names are Tatsnilitn, Tas-ta-hillinten, Tea River, Riviere du The (used by some early fur traders), Stash-la-valentha, Stash-ta-Valeka, Stash-ta-valenka, Stashta-Valentha, Stasthata-velentha, Stashtavalentha, Postelinden, Taslinden, Testalinden (from an 1877 map), Kaselina, Keselinda, Kaselinda, and of course Testalinda.
Thank you to John Boone for assistance in composing this historical note.
Submitted by Larry Shannon