“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared December 13, 1998.
• 411 11th Avenue S.E.
• Built: 1903 - 1904 (additions built in 1907, 1912, 1962) In 1919 a bungalow school was built on the property.
• Demolished: 1904 and 1907 structures were demolished in 1962 to accommodate a contemporary addition. The 1912 addition and the wood frame and stucco bungalow still stand in 1998.
• Architect: William Dodd, architect of Calgary’s city hall, designed the original four-room school built in 1904. He was also the architect for Central and Alexandra Schools.
• Original owner: Calgary Public School Board. The school was named for Queen Victoria, reigning monarch of England 1837 to 1901.
• Original cost: $12,834 (1904)
• Construction materials: Rock-faced sandstone.
• Original interior details: Four class rooms.
• During the first two decades of the century, approximately twenty sandstone schools were built throughout the city to meet the demands of increasing enrolment. In 1904, following the development of the Victoria Park subdivision, the school board built a four room sandstone school in the community in anticipation of the city’s southward expansion. Dodd drew the plans for the school in 1903 and was allegedly paid 5% of the contract price for his work.
• Victoria was set in a yard bordered with poplar and balm of Gilead trees. The Board’s building committee budgeted $250.00 to landscape the property surrounding the school.
• In 1907 a four room sandstone addition was built on the south end of the original school by the local contracting firm of McNeil and Burns.
• A 1912 sandstone addition consisting of six classrooms and an assembly hall and the wood frame and stucco bungalow school built on the site in 1919 were designed by the School Board’s Building Superintendent, Hugh McClelland and his assistant William Branton.
• Between 1914 and the end of the 1930s Victoria offered pre-vocational training and academic classes for grades one to nine. Forty six boys and forty one girls enrolled in the first "Prevo" class of January 1914. Five years later the City of Calgary Yearbook promoted the new program. " Classes in Grades VII, VIII and IX are taught the ordinary bookwork subjects, and also woodwork, metal work, leatherwork, printing, typewriting, dressmaking, millinery, cooking, home nursing art, design and mechanical drawing; half time being devoted to bookwork and half time to industrial work. The following classes of pupils are recommended for the Pre-Vocational classes: those who are not getting along in their ordinary grade work; those who do not intend to go to university or to take a full high school course; those who must go to work on leaving school; those who intend to take a course in the Institute of Technology, fitting them for better positions in industrial pursuits. The purpose of the school is to arouse interest in doing and transfer this interest to studying. There are now five classes comprising about 200 pupils."
• In his book “School Days: A Century of Memories” author Robert Stamp writes about the end of Victoria’s involvement with pre-vocational program. " In 1929 the Grade Nine class moved to the new Technical High School, followed by the Grade Seven and Eight classes the following year. There were better shop facilities at the Tech and more space was needed at Victoria for elementary students. By the end of the 1930s the prevocational students were absorbed into the new junior high school classes."
• Over the years Victoria assumed a variety of community roles in addition to education. In 1916, returned soldiers from Ogden’s Convalescent Home attended classes in shorthand and typing. During the flu epidemic of 1918, the school functioned as a temporary hospital to accommodate the overflow of patients from the nearby Isolation Hospital. In the summer of 1942 the Sugar Ration Board set up a registration office in part of the building.
• In 1919, Victoria Bungalow School was erected on the north-west corner of the school property at a cost of $35,000.
• The original sandstone building and first addition were demolished in 1962 to accommodate a modern addition. The new construction joined the 1912 sandstone to the four- room bungalow school. The completed space included 19 classrooms, library, music room, gymnasium and industrial arts rooms.
• In the 1970s Victoria became a Community School, enhancing academic instruction with continuing education and a wide range of social programs and services.
• Declining enrolment led to the closure of Victoria’s junior high in 1989 and the elementary in 1995.
• The school board subsequently rented the facility which opened in 1996 as a Charter School.
• In November 1998, Victoria School was awarded a Community Heritage Plaque. The Heritage Plaque Program was initiated in 1991 by the city’s Heritage Advisory Board to commemorate and raise awareness of the city’s heritage. The recognized sites are selected by Calgary community associations, business revitalization zone boards and local history interest groups.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared May 5, 2004.
Then: Victoria School
• The original four-room sandstone school was designed by City Hall architect William Dodd and built in 1904 for $12,834. Additions were done in 1907 and 1912 and a bungalow school was built nearby in 1919. In 1914, the Victoria Prevocational School had 87 students, spending half days on academic work and the remainder on industrial subjects. In 1916, soldiers from the Ogden Convalescent Home took shorthand and typing classes there. During the flu epidemic of 1918, the school functioned as a temporary hospital. In 1962, the original building and first addition were demolished for a modern addition. In the 1970s, Victoria became a community school.
Now: Almadina Charter School
• The Calgary Board of Education rented the facility in 1996 to the Almadina Charter School after closing the junior high in 1989 and the elementary school in 1995 due to declining enrolment. In 1998, Victoria School was awarded a community heritage plaque. The city rates the school in the highest priority category for potential preservation. The CBE sold the school and property in July 2003 to a group of local real estate developers, who leased it back to the CBE. The Almadina School sublets it from the CBE until the end of July. The new owners intend to preserve the structure and build homes around it.