Heritage Register

401 Moss Street
Sir James Douglas School arch

Built 1910

For: Victoria School Board

Architect: J.C.M. Keith

401 Moss arch


The entrance portico is all that is left of the original school, which opened in 1910. It was first known as Moss St School and the formal name honoured Sir James Douglas, founder of Fort Victoria in 1843 and later the colonial governor. The architect was J.C.M. Keith (1858-1940) who also designed Christ Church Cathedral (908-12 Vancouver, Fairfield). The building cost $40,000.


The school opened with a staff of five and an enrolment of 125 students. Ernest Campbell was the first principal and among the teachers was Winnifred Greig who taught at this school until her retirement in 1950.

The 2-storey brick, stone and concrete school building had only four rooms and enrolment had more than doubled by the end of the 1911-12 school year. A brick annex built in 1913 and a wooden one built in 1919 were among many additions over the years, including a gymnasium in 1930.

The “baby boom” 1950s led to serious over-crowding and eventually portable classrooms were needed. By the early 1990s the school was deemed to be seismically unsafe and the board was faced with a decision - either to upgrade and renovate or to demolish and build a new school. Both the Hallmark Society of Victoria and the city’s Heritage Advisory Committee advocated preservation but most of the students’ parents were in favour of a new school. In addition, the school board estimated that the cost of upgrading and also renting temporary accommodation would be $2 million more than the cost of a new building. The board therefore voted for demolition, and the new school opened in January 1997.

During the demolition a “time capsule” was found, containing old newspapers. This is now in the school board archives.

The 1919 annex around the corner on Fairfield Rd is now the home of Fairfield Community Association. The portico of the old school stands as a memorial in the school yard on Moss St.


• Fairfield History

• Fairfield Heritage Register

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Four: Fairfield, Gonzales & Jubilee

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