“Hastings Mill School’s first teacher was the daughter of the master mechanic of the mill. She had come to British Columbia from New York when she was an infant and had been educated in the Girl’s Seminary, Victoria, returning to Hastings Mill to assume her teaching duties. That she was young and pretty and that she was not long to remain in the teaching profession may be inferred from the fact that various swains competed with one another for the privilege of helping her with the milking, a domestic duty familiar to many of Vancouver’s pioneers. Miss Sweney subsequently visited in California where, after “love at first sight”, she married John Franklin Cummings, prosperous rancher of Santa Paula, California. Mrs. Cummings died September 04, 1940, leaving six children of a family of eight, six grandchildren, and one great grandchild.”
(Excerpt from ‘The First Fifty Years, Vancouver High Schools, 1890 – 1940’, pages 18 – 19.)
Other details found in historical records:
- Miss Sweney was a skilled artist and musician. A few of her sketches are held in the Vancouver City Archives.
- The one-room schoolhouse she taught in measured 18 ft by 40 ft.
- The 16 pupils she taught included mixed race (First Nations and other), Kanaka (Hawaiian), and white children.
- On Sundays, the schoolhouse was used as a church by Anglican and Methodist preachers.