BC Black History Awareness Society (BCBHAS)

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” - Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr.

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Quick Facts

Contribution: 1st teacher on Salt Spring Island circa 1859 to 1875.  One of only 16 public school teachers in the Province at that time.
Date of Birth: September 10, 1834
Place of Birth: Raleigh, North Carolina
Date of Death: December 17, 1911 
Place of Death: Greensboro, South Carolina
Education: Graduated in 1857, Oberlin College, Ohio
Siblings: Older brother William Alan (The Barkerville Dentist), younger brother Elias Toussaint

John Craven Jones

The content that is presented here is largely a compilation from articles and research found in the Links section.

John Craven Jones was the 2nd oldest of three brothers who came to Salt Spring Island in 1859.  John's older brother is William Alan who settled in Barkerville and became known as the Barkerville Dentist, affectionately nicknamed "Painless Jones".  His younger brother Elias Tousant headed for the gold rush in the Cariboo, but returned to the U.S. within a year. John Craven Jones

  All three brothers graduated from Oberlin College in 1856, 1857 and 1859.

  Oberlin College had taught John how to start and manage a one-room school; when he graduated he taught for two years as the only    teacher in a one-room school for Black students in Xenia, Ohio.

 When John Craven Jones arrived on Salt Spring Island he was 25. There was no school on Salt Spring Island, so Jones taught the  children wherever there was space, in rough sheds or in family homes.  By 1861 the community built a  log school house roughly in the  same location where Central School is now located.  For three days he taught at Central  and for three days he taught at what only can be  described as a shed in the north of the island, roughly where Fernwood  School is located today.  He travelled back and forth between the  schools because it was too dangerous with cougars all  about for the children to travel.

 By 1872 John Craven Jones had 25 students, 7 in the north and 18 at Central.  Jones was only one of 16 public school  teachers in the entire province.  Most surprisingly, he taught without being paid!   Jones owned property and a farm on  the east side of Ganges Harbor and the families were happy and eager to ensure he had whatever he needed to stay,  providing him with clothing, produce from their gardens, eggs, meat and poultry. 

 Mr. Jones taught without pay until the creation of the Salt Spring Island School District in 1869; when he was paid a salary of about $40.00 per month.

 From an 1872 school report "The schoolmaster offered his charges instruction in Latin, philosophy and human rights education that was the envy of the wealthiest white citizens in nearby Victoria and the mainland".

John Craven Jones continued teaching on Salt Spring Island until 1875 and then returned to Ohio.

This story is also told in a song written in 2009 by Phil Vernon http://www.k12studycanada.org/files/audio/John_Craven_Jones_Demo.mp3

Epilogue: Upon his return to Ohio, John met and married Almira, also a graduate of Oberlin College.  They had 3 children.  John continued to teach for about 20 years before retiring as a farmer. 

Lyrics PVernon Jones