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Port Kells Elementary School

19076 88 Avenue, Surrey, British Columbia, V4N, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2000/12/04

Historic view of Port Kells Elementary School, no date; City of Surrey, 2007
Oblique view
Exterior view of Port Kells Elementary School, 2007; City of Surrey, 2007
Oblique view
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/02/26

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Port Kells Elementary School is a large one-storey stucco-clad school building with a twin-gabled facade and a hipped roof, situated on the south side of 88 Avenue, across the street from the Port Kells Church, and west of the village of Port Kells in Surrey. This historic place also includes a large grassed field with mature coniferous and deciduous trees located behind the school.

Heritage Value

Port Kells Elementary School is significant as an early surviving school in Surrey, as a demonstration of the growth and development of the community, and as an indication of the value that was placed on public education. The first Port Kells school opened in 1891 on the Telegraph Trail, within the boundaries of Langley. The current Port Kells Elementary School opened in 1907 and has played a pivotal role in the life of local children for over a century. Modifications and additions made to the school over the years illustrate the school’s evolution and reflect the continuing population growth of the community. Despite a large extension on eastern side, the building still retains its original historic character and is a landmark in the neighbourhood.

The school is also valued for its association with the development of the Port Kells neighbourhood. Port Kells was established in 1885 by two Irish pioneers, both named Henry Kells, who planned a town site on the Fraser River waterfront straddling the Surrey and Langley municipal border. Although no major development materialized, Port Kells remained as a modest service area for the local community. Rail service was established by 1891, and when the tracks were eventually removed in 1929, the former rail route between Port Kells and Cloverdale was paved for automobile travel, dramatically improving access to the area.

Port Kells Elementary School is further valued as an example of the standardized architecture that typified educational institutions at this time. The original structure, with its rectangular plan, twinned front-gabled projections and paired entries, followed a design provided by the provincial Department of Lands & Works in 1907. This practical design was easy and inexpensive to execute and provided separate entrances for boys and girls on the north side. In accordance with mandated school policy, the windows are banked along the east and west sides to allow abundant natural light, leaving sufficient wall space for large blackboards.

Source: City of Surrey Planning Department

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Port Kells Elementary School include its:
- location west of the village of Port Kells on 88 Avenue
- institutional form, scale and massing, as expressed by its one-storey height and square plan, pyramidal roof, parallel twin front-gabled projections with flared bellcast eaves, and separated entries on the north side
- wood-frame construction with original wooden drop siding covered by later stucco and original cedar shingle roof covered with later duroid shingles
- original wooden frame window openings
- associated landscape features, such as the grassed schoolyard and mature coniferous and deciduous trees
- continuous use as a school site



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being

Function - Category and Type



Primary or Secondary School

Architect / Designer

Department of Lands and Works



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Surrey Planning Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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