UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Changing patterns in school location, Vancouver School District Glyn-Jones, Vivian


About one hundred years after British and Spanish navigations off Vancouver's shoreline, early settlement had resulted in the first two school locations within the area now known as Vancouver City: one in the north, associated with the Hastings Sawmill, the other in the south, connected with a Fraser River fishing settlement. Most of the small early settlements had been established for logging or fishing, and later for clearing of small-holding farms. The choice of Granville (later Vancouver) as the C.P.R. terminus speeded the rate of settlement and, with the incorporation of Vancouver in 1886, the regime of the Vancouver school system began. Inside the City boundaries, the first schools were within a half-mile to a mile walking distance of the early centre of settlement at Carrall Street. As public transport and False Creek bridges extended settlement around the nucleus, new schools were built within a half-mile of street-car service and at distances increasing outwards from the City centre. Outside the City, South Vancouver became a municipality in 1906; and Point Grey became one in 1908. They shared six small schools representing six small widely-separated settlements. Elsewhere, there was only the Provincial government school in District Lot #301 which, with Hastings Townsite, was annexed by the City in 1911. New school locations within all these areas reflected a rapid increase in new settlement from 1908 until 1914, dependent upon the extension of Interurban and street-car lines from the City. It was towards the end of the pre-war period that each of the two municipalities began to organize its own high school, a few years later than the first City high school, King Edward, which had been re-located south of False Creek. The real estate boom, 1908-12, had marked a doubling of City population to over 100,000; that of South Vancouver to nearly 40,000 and that of Point Grey to about 3,000. But when the economic growth was retarded by war and depression, 1914-24, the school-building programme stagnated. Overcrowding and temporary accommodation contrasted from the twenty-five new locations of the preceding era. By 1925, however, there were signs of renewed growth in the school pattern. Resulting from improved economic conditions and guided by the findings of the Putnam-Weir Report on schools, new locations were planned coincidental with the passing of the Town Planning Act. The new expansion, 1925-29, was very noticeable in the fastest-growing western part of Point Grey municipality where there had been much post-war "new" family settlement as well as outward movement from the City. South Vancouver, meanwhile, was slowly recovering from financial reverses which had left the schools unimproved for approximately eight years. The ensuing building programme, made necessary by extensive post-war settlement, started with accommodation additions to schools nearest the 16th Avenue City boundary and included one new location, the McBride Elementary School. In both municipalities much home-building had resulted from the extension of City settlement along the lines of communication and over the boundaries at 16th Avenue and Alma Road. Within the City, elementary school location had completed a half-mile pattern over the original area; but empty sections remained in the eastern part of Hastings Townsite. There, however, school sites had been acquired. As in the other two political units, more high schools were needed, especially as the Grade IX population formed 50% of the high school enrolment. In 1928, answering growing public demands for technical education, the Vancouver Technical School was built in the south-eastern part of the City, within easy reach of South Vancouver students. Other new buildings were junior high ones—according to the recommendations of the Putnam-Weir Report. After the three municipalities' amalgamation, from about 1929 to 1944, plans for new schools—as for urban development generally—were in abeyance due to unsettled social and economic conditions. Again temporary measures, such as the use of portable classrooms, were made necessary from increasing densities at the old school locations—first in high schools, then in the primary grades. Rising birth rates after 1934 as well as post-war immigration warned of greatly increased enrolments for post-war years. The succeeding fifteen-year span, 1945-60, saw the greatest building programme since 1886, in all types of schools. Especially were the new secondary locations notable—in the formerly empty or sparsely-occupied areas of eastern Hastings Townsite, the south-eastern sector, and the former C.P.R. land in central Point Grey. Not only had there been an extraordinary increase in family settlement in all peripheral regions of Vancouver, but there was a decrease in family settlement around the old nuclei—where there was a high population ratio of single workers and older persons. Induced settlement in the form of new housing estates had speeded the population regionalism, and it increased the danger of over-building elementary schools if birth rates should fall considerably in future years. An epilogue to the outward movement in the location pattern was the sale of C.P.R. land in the central area and the emergence there of a new residential core, with planned schools and shopping centre. The new residential heart of the City was approximately three miles south of the original nucleus on Burrard Inlet, and its new secondary school location immediately south of the old pioneer high school.

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