The Little Yellow School House
Henry Hudson Elementary, Vancouver
Built in 1912 the 1,900 sq. ft Little Yellow School House auxiliary building was slated for demolition by the Vancouver School Board to make space for a new Henry Hudson Elementary.
Instead of being demolished, the Squamish Nation (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw) in partnership with Renewal Development and Nickel Bros worked to save, relocate, modernize and repurpose the building as an early childhood language immersion Learning Nest on the Xwmélch'tstn Reserve in North Vancouver.
The construction of Henry Hudson Elementary in 1912 was part of the City of Vancouver's broader expansion in the early 20th century.
As a consequence of this urban growth in 1913 the provincial government forced Squamish People to abandon their homes from the ancient village of Sen̓áḵw. The village was 300 metres from Henry Hudson. Squamish Nation members had two days to pack and head to the North Shore by barge (source).
Since 2008 the auxiliary building was used by the Henry Hudson Childcare Society as an early childcare centre.
Heritage Vancouver had the schoolhouse on its Top 10 Demolition Watch List.
Last Minute Rescue
In mid January 2023, through happenstance, Renewal Development became aware of the Vancouver School Board's plans to demolish the thanks to a Facebook comment.
Given the character, old growth timber beams and recently modernized systems of the building we reached out to the Vancouver School Board to offer a relocation and repurposing solution.
The Squamish Nation, led by principles of low carbon development, circularity and being responsible stewards of our natural resources stepped forward to request to rescue, relocate and repurpose the Little Yellow School House.
The Vancouver School Board re-allocated their $80,000 demolition and abatement budget to the Nation. The Squamish Nation, in essence, provided a sustainable building removal service.
A Beloved School
The Little Yellow School House at Henry Hudson Elementary has been a space of learning, growth and memories for thousands of young children.
The Henry Hudson Childcare Society expressed full support to see the building saved and repurposed for future generations of Squamish Nation children.
Every year over 3,000 single family homes and buildings are demolished across Metro Vancouver.
It is estimated 700+ of these demolished homes and buildings are in good to excellent condition and worth relocating and repurposing.
The planned demolition of the Little Yellow School House was yet another example of the need for local municipalities to embrace policies that help us move away from a "Demolition First" paradigm that includes relocation and repurposing as an important solution.
July 10 - 20
Site Prep: July 20 - 31
Chief Joe Mathias Centre
Move Prep July 24 - 28
1502 Maple St, Vancouver
Tuesday, August 1st - Thursday, August 3rd, 2023
Tuesday, August 1st
Barge from Kitsilano Beach to the Xwmélch'tstn Reserve in North Vancouver
Barge arrival North Vancouver: August 2nd
“Having this heritage building travel from our Sen̓áḵw, our village in Vancouver, to Xwmélch’tstn here and become our language nest for today and tomorrow and future generations — it’s very empowering and emotional,” Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Coun. Sxwíxwtn Wilson Williams.
In collaboration with BC Hydro, Renewal Development identified energy retrofit opportunities for the Yellow School House.
Prior to the move an energy audit was conducted to determine baseline building efficiency.
Grants through VanCity Credit Union, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), BC Hydro and CleanBC were identified to cover energy efficiency upgrades e.g. added insulation, conversion from gas-powered furnace, new windows, heat pump.
Lafarge generously donated their ECOPact Max low carbon concrete solution for the building's foundation. Lafarge also donated recycled aggregates for the sub slab.
Pouring low carbon concrete: August 9th
The Yellow School House was "skated" onto to the pre constructed low carbon concrete foundation.
Building modernization included: replacing the old gas furnace with an electric heat pump, added insulation, upgrading the windows, new paint and new flooring.
The School House underwent upgrades for both energy efficiency and finishes in consultation with Squamish Nation educators and members.
The destination for the Little Yellow School House is next to the Chief Joe Mathias Centre on the Squamish Nation Xwemelch'stn Reserve in North Vancouver.