Editorial: Craigflower schoolhouse tenants the right fit

Oldest schoolhouse in B.C. will receive proper stewardship under Hallmark Heritage Society watch

The pending move-in of the Hallmark Heritage Society into the remarkably intact walls of the old Craigflower schoolhouse is an applaudable partnership.

How the 1854 schoolhouse – believed to be the oldest original of its kind in B.C. – has spanned three centuries without burning to the ground is anyone’s guess.

But the grand plans of the Hallmark crew will certainly go a long way to breathing new life into the Saanich treasure.

The society has been tracking the lifespan and history of hundreds of buildings across Greater Victoria since 1973, and while its volunteers still have months of work ahead of them, the promise of an accessible archive combined with public engagement will only strengthen their impact in the years ahead.

According to the society, Hallmark’s library and archives contain rare and valuable publications, photographs and over 8,000 slides. The society also has a collection of reference books on heritage preservation and history, and they maintain documents on over 8,000 buildings in the Capital Region.

Hallmark’s executive is currently awaiting word from the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations on an application for Nominal Rent Tenure, which would allow the non-profit to operate on the Crown land without paying typical rent fees.

An affirmative sponsorship decision from the province would trigger the next part in the process, which involves consultation with First Nations and other ministries and agencies to ensure there are no issues with the land being released to the applicant.

Fingers crossed for Hallmark, as Craigflower schoolhouse needs exactly the type of heritage-minded stewardship the society will provide.

Hallmark relies on membership dues to fund its work, so check out their website today or visit them in their current location at Ross Bay Villa, 1490 Fairfield Rd.