by Sam McBride

On Saturday, November 1, 1952 a group of more than a dozen high school students in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada spent the morning washing windows of stores on the main drag known as Baker Street, as they promised in notes they left under the store doors after they wrote the words “Vote Yes on the School Bylaw” in soap on the windows on Hallowe’en night. 

The backstory is that school district #7 that primarily contains Nelson had been stymied in its efforts to get funding for construction of new schools and facilities needed in the Baby Boom era.  At the time, the provincial government required local voters to approve a bylaw for the local share of the cost of new school construction.  Previous attempts at such a bylaw had been rejected by voters in low-turnout elections.  In the fall of 1952 the district trustees reached out to local businesses, students and others in the community in an all-out effort to gain support for a $2 million school construction program. 

On the morning after Hallowe’en 1952 a team Nelson High School students washes the outside windows of Wait’s News after soaping the windows on Hallowe’en night with messages encouraging residents to vote yes on the school construction program.  This photo from the 1956 Mountaineer historical yearbook shows Dorothy Foster, Mary Ann Swanson, Maureen Patterson and Doug Ife among the student wash crew.

Another “trick” of students on Hallowe’en night 1952 was to deliver 2,000 flyers to businesses and houses with the rhyming phrase “We have left your property unmolested, Please vote for the bylaw as suggested”.

As reported in the Nelson Daily News, on Nov. 5, 1952 the bylaw passed by a wide margin, enabling, among other things, construction of a new high school which opened for classes in March 1956, named in honour of longtime principal L.V. Rogers.