Connaught School

 

1910

1121 12 Avenue SW

 

Between 1909 and 1913, the height of the building boom in Calgary, over thirty schools were built to meet the city's growing population. Twelve of these schools were of high quality, sandstone masonry, a preference of the school system for numerous reasons. The most significant was the desire to finance and build schools that would "last for the next seventy-five years." School officials also wanted safe buildings and used both stone construction and slate roofs to reduce fire hazards.

Connaught School is one of the largest sandstone buildings in this group and is most similar in design to the Colonel Walker School. Originally completed in November of 1911, the school was two storeys with a centred third storey, twelve rooms, and full basement. In 1920, an addition was made to the third storey to accommodate a continuous overflow of students. The initial costs of Connaught School were well over $100,000. Architects Lang & Dowler worked closely with the School Board's draftsman, A.W. Branton, who later became the Board's chiefarchitect. The contract was given to Peers & MacLeod and required the use of the day's most experienced stone cutters.

Of free Classical design, Connaught School is a block-like form. The main entrance is approached by a divided staircase covered by a columned portico and balustrade. A roof cornice covers the building, while white moulding and balustrade provide a strong contrast to the rough cut sandstone. The south elevations have separate entrances for the boys and girls, a common feature of the day. Somewhat isolated in 1912, Connaught School was an imposing structure in the Connaught district (i.e., Beltline).  Just two blocks west of Calgary Collegiate, these district school buildings solidified institutional growth in the developing residential district. Considered to be very modern and large for its time, the school did not meet the requirements of population growth through the 1920s. Overflows were sent to other cottage schools. In 1953, a gymnasium was added to the east wing of the building at acost of $82,688. Architect J.A. Cawston was responsible for this addition.

Today, Connaught School is actively used with no significant alterations to the building, outside of the 1920 and 1953 expansions and fire damage to the main entrance in 1950.Since 1912, many of Calgary's leading citizens have attended Connaught School including Rhodes Scholar and present day politician Sheldon Chumir. The school is named in honour of the Duke of Connaught, Governor General of the day. In 1912, R.B. Bennett presented the Duke with an album prepared by the Calgary School Board boosting the facilities of Connaught School, and in return, the Duke of Connaught presented the school with portraits of himself and his Royal Consort. These remain in the offices of Connaught School.  (1992)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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