On Saturday, Sept. 21, Shaughnessy Elementary celebrates its centennial with a day of festivities and reflection befitting an institution with a tumultuous century in its rearview mirror.
Of course, much has changed at the West Side school, which was originally named Prince of Wales elementary and high school until 1960 when a separate Prince of Wales high school opened. But one thing has remained — the school’s foundation stone, which was laid by His Royal Highness, Edward, Prince of Wales, Sept. 22, 1919, during a visit to Canada.
Yes, that Edward — the one who briefly became King of England before abdicating his throne to marry American divorcee Mrs. Wallis Simpson in 1937.
A time capsule containing newspapers, coins and mementoes from Edward’s visit was placed inside the foundation stone and all but forgotten until recently. Parent volunteers doing research for the school’s upcoming centennial discovered an old newspaper article on microfilm about the foundation stone ceremony and time capsule.
“And that’s where the adventure began,” said Shaughnessy elementary principal Janet Souther, who had to figure out how to excavate the time capsule without damaging the foundation stone.
After much consultation with tradespeople, they decided to access the capsule via a stairwell and behind several layers of cement and drywall from systemic upgrades. After drilling and removing a portion of the wall, they extracted the greenish glass bottle, which was still intact and sealed with wax. An archivist from the city opened the capsule, carefully unpacking its contents, which will be on display in the school library at the Sept. 21 centennial celebrations.
“This kind of experience makes history real for our students,” Souther said. “It brings to life the kinds of things that they are learning and it makes them recognize that as they move forward […] maybe we’ll put in another time capsule and that they will be part of history as well.”
– Michael Kissinger, Vancouver Courier