God has played a huge part in the conception, creation, and development of Fountainview Academy. In 1975, He inspired several Adventist laymen with the vision of starting a boarding school patterned as closely as possible to the principles laid out in the book “Education” by Ellen G. White. This idea turned into reality when the men started a small school near Lytton, BC on an old estate called Earlscourt Farms. After a few years, when it was learned the estate couldn’t be purchased, the school was moved to its current location across the river, farther north, to a plot of land near Lillooet, BC. Originally calledFountainview Farms Christian Youth Training Center, this new school was unique because students received a more balanced education containing both vocational and academic work. Students also had the opportunity to grow spiritually in the school’s strong Christian environment. Since that time, God has led the school a long way—through a continual improvement of facilities, industry, academics, and atmosphere—and through a number of milestones, like the school’s merger with the now-closed Fairhaven Academy in ’95-’97. Through this whole journey, the school has strived to keep Christ as its focus, and has adopted the mission of giving young people the opportunity to grow in their relationship with Christ.
Many people know that Fountainview Academy is a unique place. Some know that we perform music and grow carrots. And quite a number have experienced the school’s distinct Christian flavour for themselves. But few know the school’s rich history—the story of how it became what it is now. From nothing more than an idea in 1975 to a thriving educational institution today, God has led Fountainview a long way. Below is the story of that journey.
In 1975, several Adventist laymen from British Columbia caught the vision of starting a boarding school patterned as closely as possible to the principles laid out in the book “Education” by Ellen G. White. With this goal in mind, they began a school on an old estate near Lytton, BC called Earlscourt Farms. Thirteen young people enrolled, and a leader was found for this fledgling experiment in education.
The educational program was unique. It was a half-day work/half-day study system. Students spent half the day learning practical skills appropriate to their gender. Since Earlscourt was situated on rich, tillable land, the boys learned to plow, plant, cultivate, and harvest many crops. They also learned carpentry, wiring, plumbing, and the ability to service and repair equipment. Girls learned cooking, canning, baking, gardening, greenhouse care, and housekeeping. The other half of the day was spent studying traditional academics.
When the current leader was needed elsewhere, Ben and Elsie Kwirim were asked to take leadership. Elsie became the Principal, and Ben, a licensed electrician and engineer, worked on other aspects of running and maintaining the campus. Their daughter Rhona became the Secretary/Treasurer and music teacher. Other laymen were asked to help, and the school progressed!
Moving CampusNew Location
Three years after the school was founded, in 1978, the leaders learned they could not purchase Earlscourt Farms. So, they began searching for a new place to call home. God led them to an excellent 300+ acre farm across the river, farther north of Lytton. It was purchased by Dr. Ruben Matiko, and the school leased it from him with the hopes of buying it in the near future. There was only one house and a few dilapidated sheds on the ranch when the school moved from Earlscourt, but soon there were six large homes, a single-family unit, an auto shop, a hay barn, a maintenance shop, and an administration building with a chapel. Since the campus was nestled right near the Fountain Mountain Range, the school was originally named Fountainview Farms Christian Youth Training Center. In 2001, it was renamed Fountainview Academy to reflect its updated program.
In the early eighties, the school had a number of industries. Students and staff raised vegetables and sold them in town. They also recorded and sold Christian music, ran a homeschool correspondence program (Moore Academy), and held stakes in a Lytton lumber company. Most of what they ate was grown on campus, and they baked all their own bread. In this way, the school was largely self-sufficient. However, this was hard on many of the staff women because they were housing students in their homes, and having to cook for them and teach classes was very tiring. Student labor helped offset the burden, but there was no external industry that would allow students to earn money and be of value to the school. So Clifford Goodwill was asked to come with his family and expand the farm program. He started a very productive tomato industry, and a shed was used to wash, sort, and package all the produce. This provided the students with a lot of meaningful work, but the perishability of tomatoes made it difficult to sell them all before they went bad. And just as Clifford’s industry was becoming successful, he was asked to go up north and work at Fairhaven Academy. So Allen Strut became the farm manager. He changed the farm program to include squash, onions, beets—all kinds of things. But these suffered from the same problem as the tomatoes: they didn’t keep. Around this time, Jon Carrington was asked to come from Silver Hills and be Principal and a teacher. He had a burden to farm carrots, so the farm industry was modified once again. The produce farm evolved into a carrot industry, and Robert Kinney was asked to come from New Brunswick and be farm manager. His wife Peggy was asked to be a homehead in one of the campus houses. Under Robert’s leadership, the carrot experiment grew into the thriving industry it is today.
For a while, the school also contracted with an outside company that paid them to grow ginseng on their property. It brought good prices, but in 1996 the program was phased out because the price of ginseng had dropped, and the chemicals required in the cultivation of ginseng made it impossible for the carrot farm to be certified organic.
Learning to work the land
Harvesting the old-fashioned way
Voice warm-ups in the old school building
A music tour of yester-year
Construction of Whistling Winds
Market gardens barn construction
Merge with Fairhaven
In ‘95-’97, it was decided that Fairhaven Academy up in northern BC should be merged with Fountainview Academy. So, Fairhaven was closed and its staff and students came down to work at Fountainview. Scott Richards and his family came, and he was made President. Craig Cleveland came with his family, and became the Dean of Boys. Byron and Ellen Bol also came from Fairhaven, and Byron worked as Vice President for Administration while Ellen served as Director of Food Services.
The Pursuit of Accreditation
It has been 38 years since the fruition of the inspiration for what is now Fountainview Academy. Since then, countless people have dedicated their time, energy, talents, and resources to furthering God’s work through the school. From a small farm and school to a thriving, well regarded educational institution, Fountainview’s focus has never changed: giving young people the opportunity to grow in their relationship with Jesus.