These six local heritage sites are at risk of disappearing

By Staff Writer

For the first time, Heritage B.C. has released its “watch list” of six culturally significant heritage locations at risk of being lost. The watch list aims to encourage local communities in advocating for protection, awareness, and conversation.

Heritage B.C. president Gordon MacDonald has said that the organization is aware of the need to move on, but that preservation and progress “are not contradictory but rather complementary agendas.”

The six heritage locations are:

  1. The Fairmont Academy, Vancouver-built in 1912 as a private boys residential school, the building was purchased by the Royal Canadian Mounted police in 1920 where it served as provincial headquarters. Although the traditional Tudor exteriors are intact, the interiors have changed substantially. It is possible the building will be demolished to make way for housing units.
  2. Vancouver Public Library, Collingwood Branch-opened in 1951, the Collingwood branch of VPL was the first library branch to incorporate Modernist architecture by lauded Vancouver architects Harold Semmens and Douglas Simpson. The modernist aesthetic has been lost to “unsympathetic” alterations to the exterior.
  3. First Presbyterian Church, Prince Rupert-the church, built in the gothic revival style, features wooden floors, stained glass windows, and a 65-foot bell tower. It held its first service in 1925, but the congregation has been reduced to six people, with the last service held in March. The building was then put up for sale.
  4. Turner House, Abbotsford-also known as Cruikshank Residence, this was the home and farm of George Turner and dates back to 1875. The building is the only surviving house from the first phase of European settlement in the Matsqui Prairie. The farm was also home to the Maple Grove Dairy Co., one of the community’s first cooperatively run farms. There is currently no heritage conservation plan.
  5. Morden Colliery, Nanaimo-built in 1913, the Morden Colliery are the remains of a Vancouver Island coal mine. The head frame and tipple structures still remain, but the site is fast deteriorating with emergency repairs estimated upward of $500,000.
  6. Victoria High School-built in 1912 in the Italian Renaissance style, the four-storey Victoria High School is the most extravagant school designed by local architect Elwood Watkins. Public consultation favoured keeping the lavish building despite the high cost of maintenance.

Victoria High School