Vic High Stands Strong as Renewal Goes On Around Her

Vic High Stands Strong as Renewal Goes On Around Her                                                            March 2022

Architect’s rendering of east student entry facade of the updated Vic High.

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Vic High Alumni volunteers manage the Vic High Archives & Museum and are keen to document the upgrade process for posterity. Gord Wallace, the School District’s on-site Project Manager, toured Archives volunteers through the site, Annie Boldt, Archives Manager, and volunteers Fergie Andison and Linda Baker. Our beloved school may look torn up and broken on the inside, but the 1914 structure is strong and resilient and it’s almost as if the old girl is thrilled all the broken and weak bits can now be fixed.

110 people – men and women – were on-site, and it was reassuring how many take this project so personally. One worker says his grandmother went there, another was excited to help recreate the original moulding detail in the 2nd floor front ‘heritage hallway’, and Wallace himself takes great pride in the different elements they’ll be able to restore. We thanked them all for taking such good care of our school.

Have no fear. The new Vic High will resemble the old in many ways, while creating the welcoming inclusive spaces and culture for which she’s known.

Click here for School District video tour of March 2022 status of project.

The hope is this one Roper Gym wall will be restored using salvaged bricks still intact.

The Roper Gym, still ready for a game despite the chaos.

The tour starts and ends at the Site Office, steel-toed boots and hard hats in place, signing in and out. Strict safety and health protocols in place.

The Andrews Gym, where old unsafe bleachers came out and new ones will be installed.

Hallway leading off the Roper Gym towards boys’ change rooms.

Tools of the trade. Up and down and up and down and up and down the stairs. No wonder those workers are so fit! (Two elevators when she re-opens, one already there on the west side, another going in on the east side.)

Supports in place – this was most recently the Weight Room – while work goes on everywhere.

Fourth floor classroom area, most recently the Biology Room off the south hallway.

Love to see the old brick. Too bad it gets covered, but good to know those walls are as strong as ever.

Paint peels from uncovered ceilings everywhere. Imagine. 108 years old, that paint.

Interior view of the exterior – looking up. Taken from the new east side (unfinished) stairwell column.

Interior view of the exterior – looking down. Taken from the new east side (unfinished) stairwell column.

Skilled plasterers fill in the huge gaps left when old crumbling plaster was removed from various walls.

Thanks! For taking such pride in your work and such good care of our school.

First floor hallway facing east. So much bigger since the old fire suppressions walls around stairwells are finally gone. Fun to imagine those 1914 students entering these glorious spaces for the first time.

One more floor to go on the new NE stairwell.

All our gorgeous stained glass windows in those stairwells are well protected.

Third floor classroom facing east – more areas where old crumbling plaster had to be removed. Skilled plasterers will fill in the gaps.

Architectural details stored for re-use or re-purposing are safe and sound in huge covered piles in the Roper Gym.

The auditorium won’t look that different when Vic High re-opens. But everything’s covered up as work goes on around it.

The project’s Heritage Architect is assessing and tagging every auditorium seat to determine any level of repair required, and workers examine how best to complete the work. Seat plaques are intact. ( a $250 donation to the Alumni gets you a plaque on an available seat. Go to the Auditorium Seat Plaques image on our Home page.)

Removal of dropped ceilings revealed original moulding. Wonderful detail. And see how they managed to get a perfect ‘egg’ in the corner – in every corner, actually. Such incredible 1914 workmanship. It’s too costly to recreate everywhere, but check out the photo of the mock-up replacement work.

A plaster mock-up to recreate original moulding detail in the 2nd floor front (south) hallway, the area to become the school’s ‘heritage hallway’. Installing this everywhere is cost-prohibitive, but this hallway will be a special place indeed.

More exposed brick walls, this on the south wall of the Roper Gym Balcony. Just know that though eventually covered up, this tough resilient wall is still there, as it was in 1914.

Vic High Archives & Museum Manager Annie Boldt (VHS 1967) thanks contractor DCM Durwest partner Rhys Beasley, Site Superintendent on the Vic High project.

Some things have survived so far (can you see the cut-outs left on the window by the last class?), at least until windows are replaced. The 9-over-1 configuration remains, with fewer windows able to open. But it will be more than enough.

A sample of the finish for new terra cotta tiles replacing old unstable ones on the exterior, great pains taken to blend the new with the old.

Some of the 5,000 cut-outs needed to install drag struts, which transmit lateral loads on the building (like earthquakes) to vertical shear load-bearing walls. (the seismic update part of the Vic High project)