Heritage Register

1824 Fairfield Road
Margaret Jenkins School

Built 1913-14
Heritage-Registered/Institutional (2 buildings)

For: Victoria School Board Trustees

Architects: Spurgin & Wilkins
Contractors: Luney Brothers

1824 Fairfield


This fine design has been much compromised over its 90+ years of use. An enormous extension overwhelms the front façade, the metal roof is a recent replacement, several windows have been blocked or altered, and some windows have unsympathetic vinyl or metal frames. The original 2-storey design had a dignified Dutch gable theme (unusual for Victoria), with much decorative brickwork, including recessed panels, and an imposing central front entrance. The original cost was $44,200.

Behind the school, a charming free-standing block has elements matching the main school, including the decorative red brick and the roof cupola. The brickwork has subtle variations of pattern –headers and stretchers—set off with cut stone. The remaining doorways are particularly ornate, with recessed porches surrounded with stone frames and curved arches with keystones. This annex was built in 1913 as a manual training shop, and to serve as the school until the new building was finished in 1914.

There was a 70% increase in Victoria school enrolments between 1909 and 1914, resulting in many classes of over 60 students, with some being taught in tents. Margaret Jenkins School was one of several new schools built for the rapidly growing city.


The site for the new school, in what was known as Hollywood at the time, comprised about two acres, and was made up of three small lots on Chandler Av and one large lot on Fairfield Rd. It was still heavily wooded and was in a large area of estates and farms being divided up for suburban development, with a streetcar line ending in what is now the playground. The new school opened in 1914, with eight classrooms and an assembly room, and with separate boys and girls playrooms in the basement. Among the first teachers hired were Miss Elsie Guy and Miss Olive Hayes.

Margaret Jenkins was a remarkable woman who was born in Wales and who trained there as a teacher. Jenkins and her first husband had emigrated to Chile in the 1870s but she soon found herself a widow with four small children. A second marriage in 1879, to widower David Jenkins, resulted in a very large blended family, as Mr Jenkins brought nine children to the marriage.

The Jenkins family soon moved to Canada and took up land on Salt Spring Island. This venture failed, however, and the family moved to Victoria where three more children were born. Unfortunately, six of their 16 children later died of diptheria.

In spite of her heavy family responsibilities Margaret began a breathtakingly active life in the community as a school trustee, temperance worker, social reformer, political organizer, church worker and women’s suffrage activist. In 1897 she became the first woman to be elected to the Victoria School Board and she served on it until 1919. As a trustee she promoted the introduction of new programmes such as home economics, with the first “domestic science” programme in B.C. opening at the Girls’ Central School in Victoria in 1903. The hand of Margaret Jenkins is evident in funding for the programme coming from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. She also worked for the provision of special education in Victoria’s schools. She died in Victoria in 1923.

Additions to Margaret Jenkins School were built in 1956, 1963 and 1973 and the school was added to the city’s heritage registry in 2002, along with several others. There was some controversy about the likely additional cost of upgrades that would ensue after heritage registration and there were objections from council and the city’s heritage planner when the school board decided to install vinyl windows in the school. A seismic analysis of Victoria schools in 2003 led to an upgrading project at Margaret Jenkins School in 2008-09.


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• Royal BC Museum Archives Image 1

• Royal BC Museum Archives Image 2

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

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