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Tolmie School

556 Boleskin Road, Saanich, British Columbia, V8Z, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1980/04/14

Exterior view of Tolmie School; Derek Trachsel, District of Saanich, 2004
Oblique view
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Other Name(s)

Tolmie School
Trustees of Municipality of Saanich School District
School District No. 61 Offices

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/10/21

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Tolmie School is a symmetrical two and one-half-storey Classically inspired Edwardian era brick building, located in the Saanich Core area of Saanich.

Heritage Value

Tolmie School is valued for its educational significance to the community. The site has been used nearly continuously for educational purposes since it opened in 1913. The building housed the first Saanich High School in the lower four classrooms. There were various additions in 1947 and 1963, and the building was most recently renovated in 1982 to accommodate the offices of School District No. 61.

Built by the prominent local contracting firm of Luney Brothers, Tolmie School is valued as an example of Edwardian era Classical Revival architecture, highly favoured for its civic symbolism during the early years of the twentieth century. The building was designed to convey a sense of dignity and academic achievement through the use of solid and symmetrical imposing architecture.

Tolmie School is also significant as a design by noted Victoria architect Harold Joseph Rous Cullin (1875-1935). Early in his career, Cullin was appointed as architect to the Saanich School Board; in several years he designed at least seven schools, including Tolmie School, Cedar Hill School and its Manual Training Hall. At eleven rooms, Tolmie School was the largest of these designs.

Tolmie School is also significant for its association with the growth and development of its neighbourhood context. Saanich Core is directly north of downtown Victoria, and is the administrative heart of Saanich municipality. In the late 1850s, most of the land in Saanich Core was part of Dr. William Fraser Tolmie's 445 hectare Cloverdale Farm. Subdivision of his land began in 1890 with one acre parcels and the land boom of 1910-14 established a pattern of residential lots, associated services and community institutions. Tolmie was a prominent local surgeon, Hudson's Bay Company officer, Board of Education member and major early landowner in this area of Saanich.

Source: Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Tolmie School include its:
- form, scale and massing
- symmetrical massing with central entrance
- red Clayburn brick cladding and terracotta trim: brick facade of the upper two levels; terracotta facade of the basement level
- herringbone design in the spandrels
- segmental arches over the main floor and basement level windows of the central portion
- regular fenestration including double-assembly, double-hung 1-over-1 wooden-sash windows
- paired square columns supporting the central balcony
- decorative arched parapets on each end wing



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.967

Recognition Type

Heritage Designation

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1947/01/01 to 1947/01/01
1963/01/01 to 1963/01/01
1982/01/01 to 1982/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being

Function - Category and Type


Office or office building


Primary or Secondary School

Architect / Designer

Harold J. Rous Cullin


Luney Brothers

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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