A piece of Nanaimo history is coming crashing down this spring in a demolition that’s bringing onlookers from far and wide.
The century old Harewood School has been a towering fixture of Nanaimo since the days the one time coal town put down its first roots. So people whose lives are intertwined with the school are making a daily pilgrimage to say goodbye and thanks for the role its played in their lives.
Getting this close to the end of an era, sends chills up Bill Windley’s spine.
“My dad went to school here and my brother taught here,” says Windley.
And now the Nanaimo man is watching the historic Harewood School that’s stood on this plot since 1914 come down.
And he’s not alone.
“I was just shocked one day when they came and put the fencing up. Because I was like what because I’d been telling my kids they’re going to get started on it soon,” says Heather Campbell of the Harewood Neighbourhood Association.
Bill Windley’s Dad attended here during the Depression.
“He would put in a morning’s work at the dairy farm and then come to school. I guess that’s what you had to do in the Depression you were lucky just to have something,” says Windley.
So one by one they come, each day. Capturing the demolition of the old Harewood School that’s touched all their lives.
“You can’t believe 100 years goes down in what two weeks, three weeks,” says Campbell.
Eric Martin has lived across from the towering old schoolhouse in tight knit Harewood, for decades.
“Piece of history of Harewood gone from 100 years old yeah,” says Martin.
And this was the first school Heather Campbell’s little girl ever went to.
“Kindergarten yeah,” she says.
Harewood School started by teaching the children of miners but went on to educate generations of Nanaimo. The school was officially closed in 2004 and there was a fight to save it.
“Because so many people had gone here and it had so many stories within it,” says Campbell.
But in the end overwhelming safety concerns and costs made delaying this day inevitable.
“Change now we just have to roll with it. They’ve made a decision and now we have to make the best of it I think,” says Campbell
School board offices are planned for the site but the ruins of the school will find new life too.
Bill Windley’s called dibs on a truckload of these bricks for a project at his home, to honour a family history that can never be torn down.