Heritage Register

1118 Princess Avenue/2200 Chambers Street
George Jay Elementary School

Built 1909; 1911; 1919; 1955-56; 1971; 1981

For: Victoria School Board Trustees

Architects: Thomas Hooper & C. Elwood Watkins (1909)
Builders: Parfitt Bros (1909)

1118 Princess


George Jay is a three-storey, ochre brick building with a central gable and two wings inspired by Italian Renaissance design. It has a concrete ground floor simulating rusticated stonework. The second floor entrances, which are now filled in, have rusticated concrete voussoir arches with keystones. The lozenges above the voissoirs are covered in mesh. A pressed metal cornice separates the third storey from the parapet. The recesses over the two entrances on either side of the main block give the impression that it projects forward of the two wings. The windows of the first floor are separated by rusticated concrete, which has now been painted. Round-cornered pilasters, which sit on a beltcourse above the first floor, separate the windows on the second and third floors. Some of the fa├žade elements on the parapet are now missing, and there are bars bolted to the brick above the cornice for stability.

Two years after collaborating on the design of this school, Watkins produced his masterpiece, Victoria High School (1260 Grant St, Fernwood).


There were nine classrooms in the original structure, and it was estimated to cost $63,000. In 1911, Thomas Hooper (he and Watkins had an acrimonious split shortly after they designed the original school) designed a brick Manual Training Building, constructed by Robert P. Knott and Harry V. Jones (1466 Gladstone Av, Fernwood) for $3,750. An annex was added to the back (Cook St side) of the school in 1919. There were alterations and additions in 1955-56 for $200,000 by architects James, Polson & Siddall, contractors Harry O. Fowler & Sons; an addition in 1962 for $135,700 designed by Robert W. Siddall; a library and other additons in 1971 constructed by Edwin J. Hunter & Sons to designs by Siddall Dennis Warner; and in 1981, the same architects oversaw $900,000 in renovations and upgrades.

The school was named for magistrate George Jay (1436 Elford St, Fernwood), chairman of Victoria School Board. The first principal was Henry B. MacLean (b. PEI, 1885-1976), author of the MacLean Method of Handwriting, which was taught for decades in Canadian schools.


• Fernwood History

• Fernwood Heritage Register

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume One: Fernwood & Victoria West

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