Letter to members
For some time now, the Hallmark Heritage Society Board of Directors has been discussing the future of the organization and looking for opportunities to enhance and expand our mission.
For the past three years our office has been in a small, re-purposed, bedroom at the Ross Bay Villa. While this room provided space for our files and a desk, it was quite small and precluded others working in the office at the same time.
Recently an opportunity has arisen. The historic Craigflower Schoolhouse has for the past two years been used as a contractor’s office for the construction of the Craigflower Bridge. Prior to that time it was a part of The Land Conservancy’s tenure at Craigflower Manor.
The Heritage Branch of the provincial government is now seeking proposals for a long-term lease of the property. The lease must meet a number of criteria and one of these is a use that would reflect the historical nature of the building. Your Board of Directors has unanimously voted to pursue this opportunity and are putting together a proposal to utilize the Schoolhouse as an office, meeting, and educational space and we are seeking support from the heritage community as well as the general public.
We have prepared a budget and a business plan which is within our current means.
Below, we have outlined our vision for the Hallmark Heritage Society and this important site. We feel this is a time, a moment, that can carry the Society into the future. We hope you will join us in seizing this opportunity and share in this inspiring plan.
The Hallmark Heritage Society believes that its use of the Craigflower Schoolhouse can make a significant contribution to heritage preservation in the Capital Regional District through:
1. The Hallmark Heritage Society would sponsor programs presenting classes on the maintenance of historic building fabric, similar to those classes currently being offered by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation under the title “Old School.” These would be presented by local professionals and tradespersons in each field and would cover such subjects as: Seismic Retrofits for Heritage Homes, Researching the History of Your House, Painting of Historic Homes, Energy Efficiency and Heritage Houses, and other, similar themes.
2. The Hallmark Heritage Society has long had, as a significant part of our mandate, an educational component directed towards the youth of our community. This has led to the Society being a sponsor and coordinator of the South Vancouver Island Student Heritage Fair held annually at the Royal B.C. Museum. The Craigflower Schoolhouse site is an ideal location for the coordination of the activities of the annual Student Heritage Fair and an opportunity for students from all over South Vancouver Island to become familiar with the history of the oldest surviving schoolhouse in Western Canada.
3. The Society would like to expand the educational component of its mandate through a greater interaction with local schools. This would include direct contact with Craigflower Elementary School and Shoreline Middle School offering historical tours and interpretation of Craigflower Schoolhouse.
4. During the summer months, the Craigflower Schoolhouse is adjacent to a popular walking route along the Saanich Gorge Park. During these months the Hallmark Heritage Society has, in its office, a summer student and, as a result, the Craigflower Schoolhouse would be available for public viewing during this time.
5. During the summer months, the Hallmark Heritage Society would organize and hold, in cooperation with such bodies as the Saanich Archives, special “History Fun Sessions”, bringing community youth onto the site to learn, with the help of games and displays, local and First Nations history and heritage.
6. The main floor space of Craigflower Schoolhouse would be available to community groups, such as the Gorge Tillicum Neighbourhood Association, for meetings.
7. There are great opportunities for future community involvement. Plans are currently underway for an independent senior’s residential facility at the nearby corner of Gorge Road and Admirals Road. The completion of this facility would provide opportunities for greater participation by the seniors in community activities through the Hallmark Society.
8. These new opportunities will allow the Society to build upon its historic strengths; those of heritage advocacy, the continued creation of a heritage inventory, and the reaching out to the Grater Victoria community to promote the importance of heritage preservation.
In the Hallmark Heritage Society’s response to the request of the B.C. Heritage Branch, we hope to demonstrate that there is a broad based support for the Craigflower Schoolhouse being used as a community oriented heritage interpretive and education center.