School, church, old mining site make Heritage BC’s first ‘watch list’

The list includes sites in need of protection to maintain B.C.’s culture and history

A school, old police headquarters and Presbyterian church are a few of the sites across that province that a heritage group has identified as ones that are at risk, but extremely important to B.C.’s culture.

Heritage BC has released its first-ever “watch list,” featuring six various buildings or parks, their importance in history and how they are at risk.

“We want to emphasize there are fundamental concerns with heritage conservation,” said Paul Gravett, Heritage BC executive director, in a statement. “It is not just one school or that is threatened, or one church that needs protection. There are many ongoing concerns throughout BC and we want people to be aware of the larger picture.”

The organization hopes to use the list to stimulate awareness and conversation, foster protection and engagement and encourage advocacy for improved stewardship.

“Ultimately, we want the British Columbians to be aware of the many issues and the constant threats to the heritage sites that are part of our lives and environment,” said Gravett. “If we do not have this awareness, we will lose our heritage – and once it is gone, it is gone for good.”

Sites on the 2018 Watch List are:

Fairmont Academy – Vancouver

Fairmont Training Academy is a two-and-a-half storey Tudor Revival institutional building designed by Vancouver architect Samuel Maclure in 1912, according to Heritage BC.

It was built in 1912 as Langara School, a private residential school for boys, but in 1920 was purchased by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for their own use. Renamed Fairmont Barracks, the building served as the force’s provincial headquarters until 1950, then as the sub-divisional headquarters until the 1970s, and finally as the Fairmont Training Academy.

The site is jointly owned by the Musqueam Indian Band, Squamish Nation, and Tsleil-Waututh Nation (MST Nations) as well as CLC. Canada Lands Company.

“The City of Vancouver Council approved a policy statement to develop a new neighbourhood. Current plans do not include the Academy and so its future is very uncertain,” Heritage BC said.

Vancouver Public Library, Collingwood Branch – Vancouver

The Collingwood library opened on the corner of Rupert and Kingsway in July 1951, part of a push to expand the Vancouver Public Library system beyond its seven branches at a time when the city as growing out from the core, according to Heritage BC.

Shortly after its opening, the branch is said to have recorded the highest circulation of children’s books of any branch in the Vancouver Public Library system. For many years the Collingwood library was the home of the bookmobile providing a mobile book service to outlying neighbourhoods.

The modernist 1950s aesthetic of VPL’s Collingwood Branch has largely been lost due to a number of unsympathetic alterations. Heritage Vancouver urged restoration of the façade in 2011.

Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park – Nanaimo

Before the area was designated as a provincial historic park in 1971, it was a coal mine.

Heritage BC describes the park as one that preserves the remnants of the Nanaimo region’s coal mining history.

Morden Colliery, built in 1913, comprises of a mine pithead, a reinforced concrete headframe and tipple, and the remains of related buildings and structures dispersed throughout a 4-hectare wooded site.

At 105-years-old, the conservation of the head frame and tipple structures of the Morden Colliery is seen as a race against time, Heritage BC said.

“With continuing deterioration, dislodged chunks of concrete can be found on the ground and reinforcing steel is exposed to the elements.”

The Friends of the Morden Mine Society, an organization that advocates for the preservation of the site, has estimated “emergency repairs” to cost up to $500,000.

Victoria High School – Victoria

This four-storey Italian Renaissance building with its low-hipped roof behind a parapet has three façades, Heritage BC said.

Schools in this era had three entrances: The main entrance for staff and adult visitors is in the central bay on the long Grant St façade and the two other entrances, at the extremities of the building, designed to separate the boys and girls.

Today, Victoria High School had the highest priority level for earthquake protection as it faces a student population growth beyond its capacity, Heritage BC said.

While the Greater Victoria School Board “recognized the significance of these values to the public,” Heritage BC is urging the province to “to see beyond a budget to recognize the Victoria High School is a place that matters.”

First Presbyterian Church – Prince Rupert

First Presbyterian Church held its first service in 1925, Heritage BC said.

The gothic-style wooden structure sits on a concrete foundation and features wooden floors, stairs, railings and pews and stain glass windows. A prominent feature is the 65-foot bell tower.

The church was renovated in the 1980s and could then serve as a performance venue. The last service took place on March 30 this year.

“The City of Prince Rupert does not have a heritage commission, committee or bylaws in place to guide possible heritage-altering renovations proposed by the new owner,” Heritage BC said.

Turner House – Abbotsford

This house ans associated barn are also known as Maple Grove Farm, Turner House or Cruikshank Residence, according to Heritage BC.

Turner House is a small attic timber-framed board and batten cottage, built by Royal Engineer George Turner in the 1870s.

“The house is significant as the only surviving house from the first phase of European settlement on Matsqui Prairie,” the group said. “Despite its age, the home retains a high degree of original integrity and is valuable as an example of Craftsman-style architecture.”

After overlooking Matsqui Prairie for 143 years, the house was relocated in July to Clayburn Park.

“It is intended to be the centrepiece on an improved public space,” Heritage BC said.


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ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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