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Belleville Collegiate Institute remembered

By Martin Allen [1]

BELLEVILLE – A documentary telling the story of the Belleville Collegiate Institute and Vocational School was shown Monday night at Maranatha Church.

The Last Day of School: A Final Tour of BCI&VS [2], presented by the Hastings County Historical Society, takes you through the former school room by room, telling stories of its past.

The school opened its doors in 1927, and it was demolished in 2004.

Local resident John Lowry says it’s important to remember the BCI because it was the first public high school in Belleville.

“For 25 years, BCI was the only public high school in Belleville. It obviously played a very important role in our public education system,” he said.

Lowry was there, exhibiting a collection of items relating to the school’s history. These items included everything from pieces of the school itself to yearbooks and other memorabilia.

Audience members view the artifacts relating to the Belleville Collegiate Institute. [3]

Artifacts from the BCI are on display.

Local video producer Doug Knutson said the idea for his film was sparked in 1997, when the late local historian Eugene Lang and Knutson filmed a walk through of the school.

Knutson describes what kind of person Eugene Lang was.

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/nicks-interview-w-dave-final.mp3 [4]


“He (Lang) was there in 1927 on opening day, and here it was 1997 and he knew the place inside and out,” Knutson said. “He took me places I didn’t know existed, and I went there.”

“We went on the roof. We went to the basement where areas still had a dirt floor, they called it the dungeon when I went there.”

Knutson said that the history and the legacy of the building made it something unique.

“I think we lost a great deal when that building came down,” Knutson Said. “We do have the Empire Theatre and some good spaces in the city. But BCI, it was something special.”