The morning was cold and still, but return on Monday and the parking lot of the Duncan Elementary School will look entirely different.  Children will be rushing about, saying goodbye to parents as they leave their little ones under the care and tutelage of those who have taken on a career of fostering our children’s future.  We find that when it comes to small-town living, it’s these facilities that form the nucleus of the community, for we all know the saying that “the children are our future”.  No truer words can be spoken.

We’re heading into Duncan once again, the little town we call home here at The Hollow.  Today’s post is a continuation of our running photoblog series “The Toad’s Hometown” that features the sites and landmarks of this wonderful little spot on Vancouver Island.

Duncan Elementary School - Duncan, BC, Canada

Duncan Elementary School – Duncan, BC, Canada

Built and opened in 1913 originally, currently the École Duncan Elementary School is a single track French Immersion School.  Today it also stands proudly as a landmark in town as well as symbolizing our hope for the future tempered with a strong connection to our past.  It’s hard to believe this wonderful heritage facility is 100 years old today, it is carefully and lovingly maintained.

The concept of French Immersion is something that is patently Canadian.  Our rich history finds us celebrating the dualities of the culture in our country, and the links to our French background are strong and remain so today.  Couple this with the thousands of years of diverse Indigenous peoples history and the tapestry becomes deeper and richer.  The building may be 100 years old, but it’s roots go much further back as reflected in the architectural styling and details that are distinctly European.  Let’s take a closer look at some of these.

There are definitely a few key architectural elements at play here that help portray the classical aspects of styling.  The great cupola, the details around the outer trim, the pillars at the front door, and the rich textures and colors in the stone and brickwork.  I am sure that the vines that cling onto the side of the school here will soon be coming to life, casting rich green hues against the earth tones of the building itself.  Definitely something to look forward to for a follow-up shoot.

I still find myself absolutely enamored with great architecture.  The character that goes into the design of buildings like this help create the mosaic of the spirit of our town, and others just like it up and down the coasts of Vancouver Island.

Do you have any buildings like this in your city or town?  Ones that form the intricate fabric of the society you live in, ones that would sorely be missed if they were to disappear tomorrow?  Tell us about them, we’d love to hear your story!  Until next time, my friends!




  1. avatar Rachel Cohen says:

    I love it!! “The Toad’s Hometown”!!! Such a wonderful name for an awesome series!!
    This school and architecture are fantastic! Amazing capture and processing my dear friend!!!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so, so much, Rachel, from the very bottom of our green, amphibious hearts! We just can’t thank you enough for all the kindness, friendship and support you show us here.

  2. avatar Perry Bailey says:

    Fantastic image, Toad! It reminds me of the elementary school I attended as a child which was, in an earlier day, the high school from which my mother graduated. It’s still there today, and still full of little ones five days a week.

    Can’t wait to see more of the Toad’s hometown!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Isn’t that wonderful! Thanks for your kind visit today, Perry, and for taking the time to leave these terrific comments that everyone will enjoy! We’re sure looking forward to seeing more of you around The Hollow here!

  3. I love buildings like this, the details, the character, awesome!

  4. avatar Edith Levy says:

    How true Toad. These schools form the nucleus of all our communities. Great post and this image is spectacular.

  5. avatar Jim Nix says:

    lovely photo my friend and such a great subject, nice work!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks Jim, all your kindness and support is just wonderful here, and we sure do appreciate it!

  6. avatar Jim Denham says:

    Wow, this is a beautiful building! At 100, its design and looks still hold up well – very well!

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      I only wish I could say that I will look that good at 100, eh? LOL Thanks so much for your kind visit today, Jim, it’s always a highlight for us when you pop by!

  7. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Great detail in the building Toad and it contrasts so well with that great blue sky.

  8. Beautifully captured.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so, so much Mr. Frailey, sir! We sure do appreciate you taking the time to come by and see us, and for leaving these terrific comments!

  9. wonderful backstory!!! thanks for sharing – it’s always good to see and hear about history in other parts of the world.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much for your kind, kind visit Derrick, it always means so much to us! You, sir, are a true scholar amongst gentlemen.

  10. Mr Toad it’s a great photograph showing the style and beauty of this classic very nicely. Good write up, too. A favorite, sir! 🙂

  11. What a wonderful architectural delight and very nicely portrayed, too, Toad. I would like to see some of the details in close-up shots if you have any. The creeper on the left wing and the entrance-way look especially interesting.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thanks so much, Mark! I actually didn’t grab any other shots this frosty, brisk morning, but am hoping to head back soon. I cannot tell you how much we appreciate your kindness and support, my friend!

  12. avatar Bonnie says:

    Just a short note to let you know that with the new restructuring that is happening in the Cowichan Valley, Ecole Duncan Elementary will cease to be an elementary school at the end of this school year (2013) It will, in the future, be used as an adult and alternative learning centre, as well as for distance learning. The staff and students are being re-located to Mt. Prevost Middle School; hereafter to be called Ecole Mt. Prevost Elementary School. Many parents and children are saddened to be leaving this grand old building, but look forward with hope and optimism to our new school. Au revoir, Ecole Duncan El, au revoir.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Hi Bonnie! Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and leave these comments for everyone. We’re absolutely heartbroken to hear this news today, what a sad day for education in the Cowichan Valley. The building itself is absolutely beautiful and seems to be an obviously wonderful venue to teach all the young people of our community. We need more like this, not less, in our humble opinion. Many thanks for popping on by with the update, please know that we’re thinking of everyone involved in this transition and hoping for the very best. Let us know if there’s any way we can be of service to you or the community at large, we’re happy to help however we can.

  13. avatar Amanda Cowell says:

    What a lovely blog post! I attended Duncan El (as it was called back then) from grades 4 to 6 and I have very fond memories of the old school. I was wondering if you have any photos of the interior? I have told my children stories of how at Christmas, the whole school would gather on the staircases to sing carols and I would love to be able to show them a photo :).

    • Hi Amanda, thank you ever so kindly for your visit and most wonderful comments here, we really really appreciate it! I am sorry to say I have no shots from inside, by the time we had discovered the school the changes were well underway in our local schooling infrastructure and I wasn’t able to get authorization in time before the move. We really enjoy connecting with folks like you here, and we really enjoyed your comments this morning, best wishes for the holiday season!