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Cedar Hill School

3861 Cedar Hill Cross Road, Saanich, British Columbia, V8P, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1997/11/03

Exterior view of Cedar Hill School.; Derek Trachsel, District of Saanich, 2004.
South elevation.
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Other Name(s)

Cedar Hill School
Cedar Hill Elementary School
Sentinel Elementary School
Winnifred Clarke Centre

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/10/26

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Cedar Hill School is a one-storey wooden frame institutional building with a prominent hipped roof, located on Cedar Hill Cross Road in the Quadra area of Saanich

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Cedar Hill School is associated with its development within its neighbourhood context. Quadra, located directly north of the Victoria-Saanich border, is a large urban neighbourhood created from subdivisions of its early farms. Much of the south part of Quadra was originally W.F. Tolmie's Cloverdale Farm, just one of the large farms in the area cut from the forest by the 1850s. Tolmie was a prominent local surgeon, Hudson's Bay Company officer, politician and major early landowner in this area of Saanich. The Canadian Northern Pacific Railway ran a service from Victoria to Sidney through the area from 1915 to 1935; their spur line ran until 1990 and is now used as a regional trail.

The Cedar Hill School is valued for its links to the first school in the district. This building is an outgrowth of the school that was started in the kitchen of Mrs. Henry King on Church Farm in 1861. Constructed in 1912, this purpose-built structure reflects the community's demand for adequate educational facilities for their children. The pairing of this school with the now-called Braefoot Annex building (a small one-storey building constructed the next year as the manual training hall for Cedar Hill School) is significant, as together these buildings demonstrate the evolution of the early Saanich school system. It has continued to be significant for its institutional associations, first as Sentinel Elementary School until 1976, and now as the Winnifred Clarke Centre of the Capital Regional Association for the Mentally Handicapped.

This institutional appearance of the school is a valued indication of the utilitarian nature of early public works in the area. The functionality of the building is expressed in the repetitive fenestration, simple cubic form and prominent hipped roof. Arts and Crafts detailing is used sparingly to relieve the functional appearance, including a central rooftop vent, and the long rank of multi-paned double-hung sash windows on the main level, under the wide overhanging eaves.

The 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.

The Cedar Hill School is also valued for its association with William Fraser Tolmie, who donated the land on which the school sits. Tolmie was a prominent local surgeon, Hudson's Bay Company officer, politician, Board of Education member and major early landowner in this area of Saanich.

The burgeoning population in Saanich during the twentieth century is also evident in this school; the 1957 addition on the western facade of the school is a representation of the evolution of this building to meet the needs of the growing community.

Source: Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of Cedar Hill School include its:
- form, scale and massing
- functional vernacular nature of its construction and design, seen in such elements as the moderate size; double assembly nine-over-nine double-hung wood-sash windows banked across the front facade; and low hipped roof with central vent on the ridge
- Arts and Crafts detailing as exemplified by the shingle cladding, use of multi-paned windows, and a central vent on the ridge
- relationship between the school and other nearby historic educational buildings, such as the Manual Training Hall to the east



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

Harold Joseph Rous Cullin



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Planning Files, District of Saanich

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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