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Provincial Normal School

3100 Foul Bay Road, Saanich, British Columbia, V8P, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1979/10/02

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

Young Building
Provincial Normal School
Victoria Normal School
Camosun College
Victoria College

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/10/22

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Provincial Normal School is a landmark three storey, symmetrical Edwardian era Beaux Arts style building, with formal landscaping including a grand avenue of trees between the school and Lansdowne Road. It sits on the southern slope of Mount Tolmie overlooking Victoria, in the Shelbourne area of Saanich.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Provincial Normal School is associated with its development within its neighbourhood context. Shelbourne is bounded on the east and south by Oak Bay and Victoria, with Mount Tolmie as the major landmark on the east. The area was first developed as farms, which were gradually subdivided for residential and commercial use. The neighbourhood is also home to several large institutional complexes such as St. Michael's University School.

The Provincial Normal School is valued as an illustration of the history of education in B.C.; an act of the provincial legislature mandated formal training for B.C.'s teachers. The Young Building, the school's main building, was named for Henry Esson Young, Provincial Minister of Education who pushed through reforms to the education system. The school was opened in 1915 for the purpose of training teachers for elementary and high schools for all of B.C., except for the Lower Mainland, which had its own training school in Vancouver.

The Provincial Normal School is significant because it has been used nearly continuously for educational purposes since 1915. After being used as a military hospital during the Second World War, the campus was shared by the Normal School and Victoria College. They were united by statue in 1955 as Victoria College, later forming the basis for the establishment of the University of Victoria. Camosun College took over this building in 1970.

The Provincial Normal School is valued as an example of the Beaux Arts style, which was highly favoured for its elaborate civic symbolism in the early part of the twentieth century. Vancouver architect William Charles Frederick Gillam (1867-1962), a specialist in schools, designed the building to convey a sense of dignity and academic achievement through the use of solid and imposing architecture. The symmetrical massing of the building is emphasized by the formal landscaping which includes a grand avenue of European beeches (Fagus sylvatica) from Lansdowne Road, intended to convey the notion of 'civic virtue' in the form of a Renaissance Villa. The tall central clock tower is a landmark in the area.

Source: Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Provincial Normal School include its:
- prominent location and landmark status
- form, scale and massing
- red brick and sandstone facade
- exterior ornamentation
- central clock tower
- copper clad cupolas
- interior finishes such as the terrazzo flooring and white glazed wall tiles
- auditorium with its original plaster ceilings and steel and lead framed windows
- the main entrance driveway with the grand allee of European Beeches
- front radial garden with privet hedge
- cast iron gate at the front of the drive



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)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Learning and the Arts
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type


Post-Secondary Institution


Special or Training School

Architect / Designer

William Charles Frederick Gillam



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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