History Unfolds

One day, while the Cottage was being restored, we had the unexpected privilege of meeting ‘Aunt Sue’, a beautiful woman of 92 years of age, who lived in the Edwardian Cottage as a young child, along with her mother and eight siblings!  For several years she had been coming from Ontario, accompanied by family members, including her nieces, Lorna Koyanagi and Angie Lee, to visit the Cottage.  Each year, she expected to see the building more dilapidated, or even torn down completely.  Mrs. Koyanagi and her family were so excited to see the Cottage being lovingly cared for, and especially thrilled to learn that it would soon become a school for young children! Whilst we sipped some warm tea, she shared her own childhood memories of the house and Terra Nova. She said the best part of living in the Cottage was the indoor bathroom, complete with hot running water! She also told us about chickens and cows grazing the land; about gardens filled with fuji, daikon and flowers; doing chores; playing baseball and ping pong; taking the bus to Steveston to attend Lord Byng School; and the sense of community with other families on the land, especially the Okinos and the Shimanos. She also shared her heartache at being forced to leave her home due to the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II, and only being able to take two suitcases of belongings for the whole family.

Over the past few years we have been in touch with Mrs. Koyanagi, Lorna and other family members, who offered us old family photos. We also worked with Richmond Archives to share this extraordinary piece of history. Finally, we chose six photographs to commence our long held dream of sharing the social history of the Cottage with our Nature School community.

Prior to the Cottage opening as Terra Nova Nature School, several outbuildings and a barn were deemed unsafe and unfortunately had to be removed.  The barn was built by Sue’s brother, Hiroyuki, when he was just fifteen years old!  Although the building itself could not be saved, we were able to salvage several wide planks of lovely aged wood, window and door frames.  Now, with the photographs chosen, we decided this salvaged wood would be perfect for building photo frames!  To help with this project, Emily re-connected with a local craftsman,  Bob Fedoruk of Suburban Beach Farmhouse Designs. (Emily taught all three of his children in preschool).  Then yet another gift fell before us: an old gill net from a family friend of Emily’s, which added another layer of connection!   Originally intended for use in the garden to grow peas, Bob just happened to see the netting when he came for a visit, and suggested using it for hanging children’s artwork- brilliant! This lovely piece ties into the history of Terra Nova as a fishing community, yet again bringing the past to the forefront.

This project was also made possible by the incredible work of our own Owl parent, Joselyn (Leo’s mom) who helped us in so many ways: connecting with Richmond archives; chatting with the folks at Phoenix Art Studio about framing; and writing the photo descriptions by hand at the bottom of each photo. Thank you so, so much Joselyn!

As you can see, this is a story that is dear to our hearts as a Nature School story that we hope will be passed on through the years.  We love the meshing together of the past and present and look forward to the future!


The Koyanagi family tree

Nicholas’s daddy, Neil, kindly offered to put up the frames and board. Thanks Neil!

Making our cottage a home.

The door frame with gill net.

And now to our week at TNNS!

Egg Experiment Day! I guess thinking about Easter egg dying next week, I had eggs on my mind. The children were invited to make predictions about what would happen to the eggs placed in different liquids.

Jason and Tyler C. make a new bridge. Tyler said ” We are trying to make it better.” How will they evaluate their work?

Exploring colour mixing with charcoal pastels. I think rubbing the charcoal on our bare skin was more interesting than on paper. Why were Erika and Ariel so interested in how the colour looked on their hands? Did this moment together support their play in the video clip sent out earlier this week?

Zoë has been showing a keen interest in butterflies so we set up a provocation with a beautifully preserved dead butterfly, a book, a field guide and a butterfly shaped Indian print block. Look at her detailed work!

Science investigation of owl pellets. Mason and Brianna spend about 30 minutes looking at the owl pellets, discussing which bones are from which animal and where to find them. What should be our next offering to continue this interest? Is it the bones or the owls that captivates them?

Forest School work- using ropes, mallets and pegs to build traps and bedrooms. Learning to share the tools and use the tools safely is so valuable. Children also use critical thinking skills when using equipment; what works, what needs to be modified and how else can it be used?

Darel ties a found ivy branch to the growing tree; he is very proud. Maybe he might like some more work with connecting things together?

Tyler S. and Tyler C. topple on top of each other; much laughter follows and they repeat it over and over again. These two Tylers are developing a lovely, playful friendship.

Heidi teaches Hayden how to coil the paracord neatly.

The Eagles sketch signs of spring.

Erica, our practicum student, offers the Owls loose parts in the Studio. Earlier in the week she used mats outside with natural loose parts. This activity is providing her with a lot of useful information about child development.

The Owls take flight off the step, learning to adjust their footing on the slippery wood.

Heidi introduces the idea of parts of a flower. As the year goes on, children seek out more specific scientific knowledge. As flowers bloom in abundance here at the farm, this information will be a good foundation for discussions about plant life cycle and pollination.

The new shed is delivered!

Taking out the oat seed or kernel from our home grown oats.

Jess and I cooking oatmeal on the Coleman. A warm bowl of oats with apples, cranberries and maple syrup warms the body on soul on a chilly day.

Everyone has a turn to stir the oats. Ashlyn says that it looks good.

Box. Tape. Boys.

From Heidi:

Ropes and pulling seem to go hand in hand for the owls. Maliya and Araceli each pull away from each other on either end of a yellow rope. The last time we were in tree tunnel with the ropes, Araceli had played a similar rope pulling game with Ibrahim and I was curious as to whether Araceli’s prior experience helped to form this new one with Maliya.

The Thursday owls class got the amazing opportunity to see a Hawk from just a few meters away. Some of the children, noticing the crows cawing and dive bombing it took to shouting, “Shooo, Go away crows!” I relished in the camaraderie the children seemed to feel for this hawk, though I am curious as to why they aligned themselves with the hawk over the crows.

With a little bit of help from Misuzu, Ronan gets a rope over a large, overhanging branch. He pulls, twists and leans his body as he holds on to the rope. I see that he challenges the strength of his own body, as well as that of the rope and branch as he does this.

Nicholas looks for, “small holes in the trees,” in which he places a peg and begins hammering. On this same day, Nicholas’s father, Neil, had come in to hang some items on the walls in the cottage. I watched Nicholas, wondering if the talk of his fathers project was being projected in his play. It made me reflect on the great impact adults can have on the lives of the children around them, even with the seemingly small words or actions.

Yi Teng, Leo, Anderson, Olivia and Kye attempt to, “take down the old tree so the new one can grow.” I was not present for the on set of this play, so I am very curious about what started it. We have had the ropes in this area before during play, but this was the first time the ropes were being knotted and used in this way.

Tricia notices a cozy moment shared by Ohnyou, William and Kingston. “Check out their facial expressions,” Tricia says. I wonder if we both notice the same things in this photo and if we were to interact with the children in this play, in what way we may have individually altered the state of it. I love to think of our individual educator styles like the many options in a, “Choose your own Adventure,” book.

‘Till the next post,

Emily & Kate