Dawson School, Helmcken Street

There was a school located on this block from 1893. Although today we think of the West End starting at Burrard Street, and this location as part of Downtown, this was initially called the West End School. Thomas Tracy designed the first building which fronted Burrard, which opened in 1893, and G W Grant designed an addition to it in 1897. It became known as the Dawson School in 1900. (It’s visible behind the 1913 school on the left of the picture.)

Later this building on Helmcken Street was added, the Sir William Dawson School, designed by Norman Leech, (the Board of Education’s resident architect), in 1912 with a $135,000 building permit. In 1914, the Burrard Street building became the King George High School when this new Dawson elementary school building was opened. It’s the building that Jimi Hendrix asked whether it was still standing when he played the Pacic Colloseum concert in 1968. He implied he had attended the school, although there are no records that confirm it (or any other Vancouver school).

The school was named for Sir John William Dawson, a Canadian geologist and president of McGill University, and closed in 1972, (the year this image was taken), and demolished later that year. The School Board eventually decided to sell the site and today it’s one of the forbidding dark glass towers of the Wall Centre; this corner is part of the hotel use completed in 1994, other parts of the complex include condos.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-276

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Posted April 12, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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