By Kat Vriesema-Magnuson, Experiential Learning Manager
The Experiential Learning Team started our spring Field Trip Season at Van Tech last week with four classes from Laura Secord elementary school. We really love seeing so many classes take advantage of having a farm within walking distance, and look forward to seeing even more classes in the coming weeks. (Field trips spots are still available for May and June at both Van Tech and David Thompson Learn more and register!)
While we have a lot of existing field trip options for teachers to choose from, sometimes I get to make something “off-menu”. In this case, it was a class piloting for our new grade 4-7 ‘Seed to Salad’ year-long program. I’ve been working with the teacher to develop the field trips, focusing around close observation and building connections to the farm. I wanted students to know a bit of the history of the Van Tech farm and well, a number of internet rabbit holes later, we had something really exciting to share with students, and with you!
Before colonization, the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations lived on the land, around what is now the farm site, for thousands of years, living in relationship with a rich diversity of other-than-human life. Unfortunately, in the short time that I had to prepare, I wasn’t able to go deeper into the pre-colonization cultural and natural history of the exact farm site; that will have to be a separate project. If anyone has any insights, please share!
The current Vancouver Technical Secondary School building is less than 100 years old (it opened to students in 1928), yet it went through multiple builds, demolitions, and seismic upgrades before the farm was built in 2013. Equipped with maps, archival and contemporary images, aerial photographs, a history of the school written by the Vancouver School Board, and ample curiosity, we tasked groups of students to use this primary and secondary source evidence to recreate Vancouver Technical’s historical timeline.
View From the East
Check out these images, taken in ~1927, 1930, 1985, and 2021. How has the building changed? How about the surrounding area? (Check out the size of Broadway in the 1935 photo!)
View From the South
We love this image of the field hockey team from 1942 and had to recreate it. The original was taking just 2 years after girls were admitted to the school! What do you notice about the school building? What’s growing now that wasn’t in 1942?
This aerial photo, taken between 1942 and 1945 shows how much development has happened in the area in the last 80 years. The close-up shows the school campus. Compare those to the recent Google satellite views! Can you find the farm location on the 1940s close-up?
Students enjoyed playing detective, putting the pieces of the puzzle together, and getting a different view of what was, and maybe what could be. They were amazed that just 15 years earlier, a building sat where the farm is now! Sometimes it’s hard to imagine things could be different than they are right now and easy to imagine that they have always been this way, but the history of the Van Tech farm site shows that change is happening all the time, and those amazing things can happen when we choose to make the changes we want to see!
Google Maps of the Van Tech area, https://goo.gl/maps/9yLUA44PbnhWZiUv9
Information about the seismic upgrades from Colborne Architectural Group, https://www.colbornegroup.com/our-work/heritage/vancouver-technical-secondary-school-seismic-upgrade/
Vancouver Archives, https://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/
Vancouver Technical School History, https://www.vsb.bc.ca/schools/vancouver-technical/About-Us/School-History/Pages/Default.aspx
- 1927 Construction: Vancouver Technical Secondary School under construction. Photograph taken from East Broadway and Penticton Street on August 5, 1928. City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 447-269. Walter Edwin Frost photo.
- 1930 Complete school, from the east: Front view of Van Tech taken from the corner of East Broadway and Slocan Street around 1930, shortly after the school was built. City of Vancouver Archives, Sch P14. Leonard Juda Frank photo.
- 1985 school from the east: Front view of Van Tech taken from East Broadway, around 1985. City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 790-2078.
- 2021 School from East: Front view of Van Tech taken from East Broadway, April 15, 2021, by Kat Vriesema-Magnuson.
- Girls grass hockey team with Mayor McGeer taken on September 19, 1936. The team is standing on the fields located on the south side of Van Tech. The Girls Wing of the school, later demolished during seismic upgrading, is visible in the top middle of the photograph. City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 99-4945. Stuart Thomson photo.
- View from the field south of the school taken on April 15, 2021 by Kat Vriesema-Magnuson.
- Aerial view of Vancouver and Burnaby taken sometime between 1942 and 1945. Vancouver Technical Secondary School is visible on the middle right-hand side of the photograph. City of Vancouver Archives, VLP 186.7. Royal Canadian Air Force photo.
- Google Satellite View of Vancouver and Burnaby, accessed April 26, 2021.
- Close up of Van Tech from the 1940s aerial view. City of Vancouver Archives, VLP 186.7. Royal Canadian Air Force photo.
- Google Satellite close up of Van Tech, accessed April 15, 2021.