As regular readers may have guessed, I have a soft spot for red brick buildings. I suspect that is partly because they are rarely built these days, and partly because they remind me of the English neighbourhood I grew up in. Whatever the reason, I like the way they look. They often have chimneys and interesting doorways. Sometimes they even have battlements that were designed for warriors to hide behind while shooting at approaching enemies.
The Parkdale School building, which now houses the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, is one such building. It was built in 1912 and is located just a block away from my house. It was one of the first schools in Edmonton to use a modified school calendar such that vacations were distributed throughout the year and had a shorter summer holiday than is customary. About 60% of the school’s students were of aboriginal heritage, and Cree language and culture courses were offered to grades 7-9.
The building’s design is called Collegiate Gothic. It has the traditional entrances for boys and girls as well as arched trim around the doors and some of the windows. It is quite an imposing structure and is situated in a central location within Parkdale.
I pass it regularly when I am out for my walks and often wonder what it is like inside. The rigid design tends to put me off going up the steps and I wonder if the former students felt the same way. Or, maybe it’s the crenulated roofline that makes me nervous.
Now that I think about it, perhaps my hesitation comes from a deep-seated memory of the school I attended from age eleven to age seventeen; Mellow Lane Comprehensive School in Hayes, Middlesex. I will let you be the judge.