Pioneer nurse Anne Young top suggestion as name for new Fort St. John school

School District 60 received more than 70 public submissions about a name for Fort St. John's new elementary school, and pioneer nurse Anne Young was top among the suggestions.

The two-storey, $31.1-million school is under construction across from the hospital, and has been given the temporary name of Northeast Elementary. 

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Trustees will choose a formal, permanent name as per district protocol, and public input is part of the process. The school's proximity to the hospital meant a good chunk of suggestions from the public were of local doctors and nurses, Superintendent Dave Sloan said.

"We're right across the street from the hospital and birthing centre. There's a strong tie," Sloan said.

Anne (Roberts) Young was the first registered nurse stationed in the North Peace, arriving from England in 1930 to work at the Grandhaven Red Cross Outpost Hospital.

She married farmer and postmaster Jim Young of Rose Prairie, and continued working as a nurse after her move to that community, often travelling by horseback and through severe weather to see patients. She delivered more than 300 babies during her 25-year career in the region.

That said, the school district received a wide gamut of name suggestions to consider, ranging from local individuals and families, to geographic locations, to cultural references, Sloan said.

District staff are narrowing down the list, which will be presented to board trustees at their January meeting.

Individual name suggestions ranged from Sir Alexander Mackenzie, the first explorer to travel through the region, to Frank Beatton, the clerk for the Hudson’s Bay Company at Old Fort St. John. 

Ross H. MacLean, a businessman and founder of minor hockey in Fort St. John, was also suggested as a name, as was Dr. William Watt, recently retired after 41 years of service. 

Schooly McSchoolface was suggested several times.

Geographical name suggestions included Beatton Heights, North Knoll, Fort St. John Heritage, Nature's Horizon, Peace Foothills, and Northern Lights. 

Others suggested a range of Dane-Zaa phrases and words such as Dreamer and Beaver.

District protocol for naming schools takes into consideration geographic areas, or persons of recognized historic, cultural, or social significance. The names of any person will only be considered if they have been dead for at least five years.

The new school will have seats for 505 students, and include a neighbourhood learning centre, a daycare, and multi-purpose spaces for community use.

Construction began in 2018, and is planned to be complete and ready for students in fall 2020. 

At a groundbreaking ceremony last year, Education Minister Rob Fleming said school district made a good case for the new school, but joked the best case was made by Northern Health and the city's maternity ward.

In announcing the school, the province recognized the school district as one of the fastest growing in B.C., with more than 600 births per year at the Fort St. John Hospital.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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