Balmoral School, 220 16 AVE NW, taken in a snowstorm.
“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared September 12, 1999.
• 220 16 Avenue N. W.
• Built: 1913 – 1914
• Architect: Public School Board architects Hugh McClelland and William Branton
• Contractor: James S. McPhail
• Original cost: (the estimated value of building and property in 1930 was $246, 871.)
• Original Owner: Calgary School Board
• Construction materials: Steel structure with smoothcut sandstone cladding and slate shingles.
• Original interior details: 16 classrooms
• Built on property purchased from N. J. Duckworth for $1,700. The school was named for the city’s Balmoral District which was named after Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family’s ancestral Scottish home.
• Balmoral was the last and most expensive of nineteen sandstone schools built by the Calgary School Board between 1892 and 1914 to accommodate the city’s rapid growth. The declaration of World War I ended the school construction program and with it the era of the sandstone school. By the end of the war many of the sandstone artisans had returned to Scotland and Medicine Hat brick had replaced sandstone as a reasonably priced building material.
• The school opened in 1914 but was officially dedicated in 1915.
• The tower clock, initially delayed by wartime shortages, was never purchased. For a time around 1917, a clock face with hands pointing to 4 p.m. was painted on the tower in place of the missing clock. Among the many wild stories surrounding the empty clock tower was one that claimed that the clock sank with the Titanic in April 1912.
• William Aberhart, later Social Credit Premier of Alberta was the school’s first principal. During his tenure from 1915 to 1928 Balmoral offered elementary classes and provided temporary quarters for Crescent Heights High School students.
• With the completion of Crescent Heights High School in 1929 Aberhart and his high school students moved into the new facility. Balmoral reverted to an elementary school with enrolment ranging from 800 to 1,000 students annually.
• In 1935 Balmoral teacher and Principal, Ester Martin won the King’s Medal for her contribution to education in the city.
• In 1937 Balmoral Elementary expanded to include junior high grades. When H. D. Cartwright was appointed principal in 1938 there were 15 teachers and 445 students. The first edition of the school’s newspaper, The Barometer, was published in October 1938 under the editorship of Donald Nelson.
• By 1943 conditions at Balmoral were quite crowded with 500 enrolled in elementary and 406 in junior high. Both students and teachers supported the war effort with magazine collections for the forces, Red Cross work, war salvage and war savings sales. The school offered Canadian Legion educational classes in shops and sewing and provided night classes in woodworking.
• A public address system was installed in March of 1945.
• During the 1940s the community was kept informed about school events through the "Balmoral Byline" in the North Hill News.
• In 1955 a 10,75 square foot gymnasium was built on the school’s west - side. A flash fire on May 24, 1963 caused $28,000 damage to the gym. It was subsequently repaired and re-opened.
• More than 1,000 former teachers and students attended Balmoral’s fiftieth anniversary on January 17, 1964. At that time the school had an enrolment of 580 students in nine junior high, five elementary and one special classroom.
• Over the years Balmoral’s extracurricular programs covered a wide range of interests and activities including the safe driving club, boys’ cooking club, the literary club, orchestra, school patrol, hockey, football, basketball, Girls War Work Club, Model Club, Sewing Club, girls’ woodwork and badminton.
• In 1974 the School Board asked the parents of Balmoral’s 150 elementary students to transfer their children to nearby elementary schools. This unpopular request, allegedly designed to make more space available for junior high students, was unsuccessful. With the threat of closure looming, the parents and board reached an agreement. On May 14, 1974 trustees agreed to a resolution stipulating that the school remain open as long as there were at least 60 elementary students.
• In 1984 Balmoral’s elementary program was discontinued as a result of declining enrolment. The 24 - room school continued as Balmoral Junior High serving the communities of Coventry Hills, Crescent Heights, Mount Pleasant, Panorama Hills and Tuxedo Park. In 1996 enrolment stood at 173 students.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared October 6, 2004.
• This impressive classical building, named for the royal Scottish castle, was the last of the sandstone schools built in Calgary and one of the most expensive at nearly $250,000. Constructed in 1913 and originally designed as an elementary school, it was ready for students in September 1914. It also accommodated high school students under principal William Aberhart until Crescent Heights High School opened in 1929. The clock for the tower was never purchased. Stories about the missing clock include the works being returned to England never to be seen again, and the clock sinking with the Titanic. Near the end of the First World War, a clock face was painted with hands pointing to 4 o'clock.
• Over the years, Balmoral expanded to include junior grades. In 1949, it rivalled Western, with 1,045 students and 30 teachers. The gymnasium was added in 1955. It was damaged during a dance by a homemade bomb in 1958 and by a fire in 1963. Like many older schools, Balmoral faced closure as enrolment declined. In 1984, the elementary program was discontinued, but Balmoral Junior High remained. In 2002, the Calgary Board of Education approved the alternative program, Balmoral Centre for Creative Learning. There is also a work experience program and an ESL program.