Muriel Lillian Baxter

January 14th, 2021 2 Minutes

Muriel Lillian Baxter was an outstanding public figure, serving as a teacher, principal, and elementary school supervisor in Cranbrook for 41 years. Ms. Baxter was born on October 13th, 1902, in Saint Johns, N.B., to Isaac and Idella Baxter. They relocated to Cranbrook in 1903.

She was the oldest of five children.

Miss. Muriel Lillian Baxter #2023.0018
Image courtesy of the Columbia Basin Institute and School District No. 5 (2023)

She received her education in the early 1900s at Cranbrook Central School. Following high school, she attended the Provincial Normal School in Victoria, B.C., for teacher training in 1919.

Upon graduation she returned to the Cranbrook area to begin her teaching career. She taught for two years in Wycliffe, B.C. In 1922, she began teaching in Cranbrook and continued there until her retirement in 1963. During her time, mostly spent at Cranbrook Central School, she was regarded as the “MacLean Method of Writing” specialist teacher.

Ms. Baxter filled many positions in the “Ladder of Learning”; first as a grade school teacher, then from 1928 to 1949, as vice-principal at Cranbrook Central School under principal Ms. Amy Woodland and principal Mr. R.C. Lucas. In 1950, when the post-war population started to increase, Central School hired Baxter as supervising principal.

With an expanding school system in 1956, Baxter became Elementary Supervisor of School Districts 1 and 2. She retired in 1963 sharing her teaching experience with the influx of new teachers. Her contributions to the management of education were uncommon for a woman of this period and the Cranbrook School District was justly proud of her. Muriel always cared about the well-being and future of her pupils. She rarely forgot a student’s name.

She lived in the family home on 12th Avenue South which she shared with her mother, Mrs. I.J. Baxter, until 1973. In 1974, Muriel moved into the F.W. Green Home after suffering a stroke. She passed away on August 28th, 1980, at the age of 77.

The Muriel Baxter Elementary School was formed as a tribute to her many years of exemplary service in the community in both public and private life.

Muriel Baxter Elementary School 1967 #2023.0013
Official opening program for Muriel Baxter Elementary School Nov. 22, 1967 – Image courtesy of the Columbia Basin Institute and School District No. 5 (2023)

Muriel Baxter Elementary School opened on November 22nd, 1967. The school was planned as a “child-centered” school where pupils were encouraged to develop their personalities and learn successfully in their unique styles.

Muriel Baxter Elementary Certificate of Accreditation 1999-2005 – Image courtesy of the Columbia Basin Institute and School District No. 5

Due to declining enrollment, the school was closed in 2002. It reopened for a short time as Kootenay Educational Services, and it was officially closed in June 2008. Muriel Baxter Elementary burned to the ground before its scheduled demolition in December 2008.

Over 15,000 students walked its halls from 1967 to 2008.

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