How has the Junior School building changed over the years?

It’s nearing the end of the year at St.George’s School and also nearing the end of our grade 11-12 Journalism class. Our class has been tasked with one last final project. That project is to find and investigate a topic. I was struggling to think of anything to investigate and write about that I found interesting and wanted to really know more about. I thought after some insightful thoughts from our head boy, Why don’t I investigate the history of the junior school building? So, that is what I set out to accomplish and that is what I will show you in this article. This subject originally came to mind when I was thinking of my father. He graduated the class of 67’ at saints, and I knew he could bring some insight into what it was like going to school here, as well as many other interesting stories. My father couldn’t be my only source of personal evidence. I needed more. In that pursuit for more, I set up an interview with Greg Devenish, the soon retiring Principal of the junior school. 


St.George’s was founded in 1930 by a group of intrigued Englishmen that recently arrived in BC. John Harker one of the original founders of the school was also one of the most influential leaders and headmasters at St. George’s School. The school first operated out of a large house/building. This building was about a block towards our current senior school, on the opposite side of the street. Close to the current junior school. Many including my father weren’t exactly thrilled to attend that house. He said “It was hot and boiling, and tiny. Our gym was the same size as a normal classroom now.” The school has obviously largely expanded since those days. St. George’s students from grade 1-7 study at the Junior campus, and 8-12 study at the senior campus. The Junior School was converted from the previous institution Convent of the Sacred Heart, a beautiful building which originally served as a Catholic all-girls school. The building is now protected by Vancouver’s heritage building program.

The story of how that building came to be St. George’s is quite remarkable. The history and integrity of the building has an entire team of people and members of the St. George’s board dedicated to keeping the building historically accurate and in pristine condition. Given that St. George’s wants to keep the building in its original glory, they can’t stay in the past forever. In the past years that I’ve been away from the junior school studying hard at the senior school, they have been upgrading, renovating and innovating the learning spaces. Mr. Devenish took me on a tour of the updated school, showing the greatness of the new in the school, and the old. As you can see, this space was originally an office for front desk administrators and teachers alike. Now after a major transformation, it has been turned into a “maker space” for kids of all ages. Kids have personal helpers specifically hired to assist with and plan projects that kids are interested in. The Saint George’s board has still kept the outside, and first floor of the building identical to the day it was constructed. A special part of the history of the building is that they have beautifully kept intact is the chapel located on the first floor. Students sing hymns and say prayers and hear stories in the chapel once or twice a week depending on the grade. An important item inside of the chapel is this giant rug hanging from the back wall. This rug was cut from a much larger rug which Queen Elizabeth walked down when she became the Queen. This portion of the rug was originally meant to be sent to another place in Canada, but by accident it was sent to Saints. The rug was hung by the headmaster at the time and it has not moved since then. This is just one piece of the historical building and beautifully well kept first floor. Moving on to the floors above, they have changed a lot since I was a student. They have removed the traditional hallways and classrooms and created what they call, student neighborhoods. These neighborhoods have beautiful furniture, open spaces, new creative spots to study and be alone, and most importantly for saints an interactive space for teachers and students to interact while learning. Greg Devenish said to me how important it was to change these spaces. He let me know that they wanted the kids to feel that they could feel safe in school, and love the learning environment they were in. It seems like they have achieved that goal very handily. The spaces were absolutely beautiful and I have never seen a school that looks this advanced and welcoming to learn in. They created a real and personal space for these students to work with and around.

I learned a great deal about the history of this building, and what has gone into keeping its historical glory during my investigating and researching. I think it’s safe to say that St.George’s will always strive to be the best school it can be, and they don’t seem like they are slowing down.