Mount View High School. Click on the image to enlarge it. Mount View High School

3814 Carey Road
Victoria, B. C.

Mount View High School was built in 1931 and opened in September 1932. The school on Carey Road in Victoria was originally conceived as Saanich High School and was intended to serve the entire municipality of Saanich. Before the high school opened students living Saanich who wanted to pursue higher education attended Victoria High School. For this privilege, the Saanich School Board Trustees paid Victoria School Board annual tuition fees of $125 per pupil. But when the population of Saanich grew rapidly, as it did in the 1920s, and when the number of eligible high school students increased correspondingly, the Saanich School Board decided to invest in its own high school.

The first step was taken in 1928 when temporary accommodation for Saanich High School was provided at Tolmie Elementary School (now the headquarters of School District 61, Greater Victoria). Over the next few years plans were made to build a large modern high school to serve the entire municipality. Local school trustees initially planned to build the new Saanich High School in the vicinity of Swan Lake. However, because of local politics and the onset of the Depression, the plans were revised. In 1931 — after many public meetings and three referenda — the Saanich School Board decided to build three high schools: two small ones to serve pupils in the south-east and north portions of the municipality and a larger school located on Carey Road to serve neighbourhoods near the Saanich-Victoria border.

The two smaller schools were opened in November 1931. Both were located close to distinctive elevations and were named accordingly — hence Mount Douglas High School in south-east Saanich and Mount Newton High School, located further north. The property on Carey Road was located on high ground that offered a view of the Olympic mountain range to the south and so the new school was named Mount View.

Mount View High School was designed by Saanich architects Hubert Savage and Eric C. Clarkson and built by a local contractor, A. McKinty, at a cost of $45,250. The school was officially opened with great ceremony on 6 September 1932. The ceremony was attended by the premier, Dr. Simon Fraser Tolmie, who grew up in the district and owned a farm (named "Cloverdale") nearby, and the Minister of Education, the Ven. Joshua Hinchliffe. The opening ceremony featured speeches by dignitaries and awards to students.

When it opened, Mount View High School consisted of ten classrooms, an auditorium and administrative offices. Separate instructional areas were provided for Commercial (i. e. typing and stenography) programmes and for Home Economics. The school grounds were large and included tennis courts and several playing fields. During its inaugural year, the school enrolled 265 students.

In 1945, a technical building (consisting of metal and woodworking shops), a drafting room and a classroom was built behind the main building. The enlarged high school became an asset of the Greater Victoria School District (SD #68) — a new administrative unit created in 1946, following the Cameron Commission Report. School District 61 (Greater Victoria) was created by amalgamating the municipal school districts of Esquimalt, Oak Bay and Saanich with the city school district of Victoria.

Mount View High School acquired a gymnasium in 1952. The gym was built over the site of the tennis courts. A library wing was also added in 1952. Increasing enrolments prompted further renovations in 1957, when new classrooms and physics and chemistry laboratories were added. Another major change was made in 1966, when the technical building was enlarged and completely renovated. Thereafter, it was known as the Industrial Education building. By that time, approximately eight hundred students were enrolled in Mount View and several classes were being held in temporary portable buildings. Also in 1966, provincial high schools were re-classified as "secondary" schools and so Mount View High School became Mount View Senior Secondary School.

In the 1970s, new residential subdivisions were built near the school and enrolment increased. At the same time, the Ministry of Education initiated a new secondary curriculum that required modern, sophisticated facilities. The Depression-era structure on Carey Road was simply not adequate for the new programmes and in 1973 the Greater Victoria School District trustees decided to close the school.

Mount View Senior Secondary School was replaced by Spectrum Community School. The stylish, new school - located at 957 West Burnside Road - was supposed to open in September 1974, but did not open until the following year. And so the first group of Spectrum students attended classes on Carey Road.

For the next twenty years, the Mount View school property was used as a satellite campus for Victoria's Camosun College. In the mid-1990s the main building was used as a church. Beginning in 2003, the original school building was used as a storage facility for surplus furniture by the Greater Victoria School District. But while the Municipality of Saanich designated the 1931 school building as a heritage site, the owners of the building — School District 61 (Greater Victoria) — allowed the physical structure to deteriorate. The Corporation of the District of Saanich was also complicit in the physical deterioration of the school building, by allowing the Saanich Police Department to use the empty heritage building as an obstacle course for training police dogs. 

In February 2007, Saanich Council voted to remove Mount View from the community heritage register. A month earlier, the school buildings and grounds were acquired by the Capital Regional Hospital District [CRHD] of Victoria. Demolition of the school buildings began in May 2007 and by August the school had been totally effaced from the landscape. In its place, the CRHD is building a residential care facility for seniors, housing units for low-income families and supportive housing for homeless people. The social health and welfare development is called Mount View Heights. The developers promise that "Mount View's original heritage as a school will be remembered and celebrated with references throughout the site's landscaping plan."

When the school's heritage status was revoked, Saanich Council recommended that the School District 61 hire "a heritage professional to record Mount View." School district officials declined to act on the recommendation. Apparently, however, the stained glass window that graced the main stairway of the old high school has been preserved and is in the custody of the school district. Perhaps it will be installed in one of the Mount View Heights buildings.

Mount View's last graduating class was commemorated with a special graduation ceremony and homecoming dance for former teachers and graduates in June 1974. Over the years many reunions congregated at the school. In 2002, for example, the Class of 1972 held their 30th anniversary and created a memorable web site of the event. However, now that the school is gone, future reunions will have to be held elsewhere. The Mount View class of 1958 held their 50th anniversary at the Gorge Vale Golf Club in June 2008. The reunion was coordinated by Ken Moulson. The Mount View class of 1968 held their 40th anniversary reunion in July 2008 at a Victoria hotel. The class of 1962 is planning its 50th anniversary reunion for next year.

Written and researched by Patrick Dunae, September 2008; revised April 2011.
The Scribe: Mount View, 1932-1974 and information from Mount View alumni.
See also Saanich Municipal Council Minutes, 5 February 2007, No. 38, pp. 8-14: Request to remove Mount View High School from Community Heritage