Aberdeen School – Burrard Street

Seen here in this early 1900s Vancouver Public Library image, Aberdeen School was set back from the street with a huge yard in front. There had been a wooden school here from 1888; the West End School. (The East End School was in Strathcona). It was a four-room frame building, and soon considered inadequate. The 1889 Annual Report of the Principal, Miss M Hartney said “The attendance, however, would have been considerably larger were it not for sickness that was so prevalent among the children during the spring months. And this sickness, I am convinced, was much aggravated by the school grounds, which are in very unfavorable condition, and require immediate attention in order to preserve the health of pupils and teachers.”

The rapidly growing school population led to the construction of a replacement, Dawson School, which was on the east side of Burrard a little to the south. In 1908 another school was built here, for primary classes. It was named after the Governor-General of Canada. John Campbell Gordon, 1st Marquis of Aberdeen and Temair. Although it was built at a time when the permits have been lost, we know E E Blackmore designed it because his appointment was referenced in the School Board Annual Report in 1907.

The school operated until 1942 when the name was changed to Sir William Dawson School Annex or just plain Dawson Annex, and it operated in conjunction with the school down the road. Around 1949, when Jimi Hendrix was 7, in a 1968 interview he recalled staying in Vancouver, attending grade 1 at Dawson Annex, although his presence does not appear in any VSB records. While it’s often noted that he lived with his grandmother, Nora Hendrix, she lived in Strathcona, and it would have been a long way for a small boy to travel. It was more likely that he stayed with his aunt (her daughter), Patricia, who lived on Drake Street, and was five years older than Jimmy’s father. Her first husband, Joe Lashley, died that year, and she moved back to the States.

After a mini post-war boom in the 1950s the school closed in June of 1962, the students were absorbed into Dawson School at Burrard and Helmcken. The building sat vacant for several years and the school grounds were used as a parking lot for the B.C. Hydro building.

The building was demolished on April 1, 1969 (when Health and Safety rules were apparently less stringent, as this VSB image shows). After years as a vacant site, in 1991 a condo tower called Vancouver Tower was developed here, designed by Eng and Wright, with a two-storey IGA grocery store occupying the whole of the front of the site.

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Posted 28 February 2022 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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