You’ll Never Believe This!

You’ll Never Believe This!

by Linda Baker, VHS 1969

Rob Lawson is a DurWest labourer currently working at Vic High. March 8, 2023 he was on scaffolding removing plaster in the auditorium ceiling to make way for backing for new sound system speakers. One hole dead center in the ceiling coffers gave him a little trouble so he pulled away more plaster. To his surprise, he saw a small burgundy booklet with the word Diary on the cover. “I couldn’t believe what I saw!” says Rob. Thankfully as a bit of a historian, he knew it could be very precious so removed it carefully and turned it in to Gord Wallace, School District 61’s Site Manager for the seismic upgrade. Gord emailed us and it was turned over to the Vic High Archives & Museum.

The 1915 Canadian Pocket Diary belonged to Ernest Fairey, older brother of Frank T. Fairey, after whom Fairey Tech was originally named. We found Ernest’s marriage certificate online, matched his birthdate with information found online about Frank, and learned that his trade was Joiner. Numerous entries in the Diary – materials lists, etc. – definitely bear that out. Inserted in the diary were some used Canadian stamps (worth pennies only) and a BC Electric Railway ticket.

Ernest lived at 239 Johnson Street at the time of his marriage. The Identification information in the diary shows in 1915 he lived at 1555 Pembroke Street. Various entries suggest he also did work at Boys Central School, and possibly even at South Park Elementary. We also learned that Ernest belonged to the I.O.O.F. Masonic Temple, Victoria, Camosun Lodge No.60 and paid dues of $6.00 a year.

DurWest Project Foreman Phil Aurora says it’s location underneath a very thick (original) steel beam suggests it was dropped when Ernest was doing something in the attic  and he couldn’t get it out.  The whole area had recently had new insulation blown in so the beams are completely covered now. How curious that Rob needed a hole in the ceiling right where Ernest’s diary sat.

“We are so appreciative of workers at the jobsite,” says Archives & Museum Manager Annie Boldt, VHS 1967, “when they find these kinds of things and realize the importance of them. We have little or no information like this about the original build in 1912-1914, so we’re very grateful to Rob for his find.”

Archives & Museum volunteers hope to be able to meet with various workers from the jobsite to capture their stories about the job, as well as with the architects, designers, and school district staff who are part of the project team. Phil will shortly turn over to the Archives & Museum, a folder of newspaper clippings found during demolition.