Re: EXCLUSIVE: 100-year-old building at səmiq̓ʷəʔelə/Riverview to be razed (Jan. 6, 2022)
I am writing this letter in regards to an article in the Jan. 6, 2022, paper about the demolition of the Valleyview Lodge this month.
The Boys Industrial School (BISCO) did open in 1922. History documents that the school was built to relocate the "incorrigible youth" from a juvenile reformatory opened in Vancouver in 1890. The mandate was to provide a significantly better quality of accomodation and opportunity for schooling, social and life skills.
The evolution of this site is unique and a testament to the changes that occurred over the years as it adapted to the growth of the hospital as it evolved. The history cannot be fully written in the space of this letter but clarification is needed on some descriptions in the article.
Bisco was not "a place where troubled youth worked at Colony Farm."
A farm was located on the hospital site and consisted of its own dairy barn, silo, bull pens, horse barn, piggery, poultry house and general farming and agriculture. Medical and psychiatric care was available through the hospital, the boys could participate in recreational and social activities and had their own school.
"The three-story structure was repurposed in the 1950s as the Essondale School for the Aged and renamed the Valleyview Lodge."
This is not correct.
The Home For the Aged Act was passed in 1935 and the three cottages were upgraded, handed over and renamed the Home for the Aged in 1936. This change occurred to meet the needs of an ambulant but aging population of patients at Essondale.
The administration building included a residence for nursing staff and the tea house. The Boys School was relocated to other facilities on the grounds and remained there until the School was transferred to Brannen Lake, a new institution near Nanaimo in 1955.
Valleyview Pavillion, also called Valleyview 300, officially opened as a 100-bed facility in 1959. The administration building was renamed the Valleyview Lodge and the site was named Valleyview, separate in its administration and nursing department from Essondale.
The three cottages closed during 1950–51 as these ambulant patients were being transferred to Dellview in Vernon and Skeenaview in Terrace. The cottages would eventually reopen for designated non-patient use but have been permanently closed for many years.
The kitchen and dining block is now the parking lot across from Cottage 3.
Riverview Hospital was listed as top of the 10 most at risk heritage sites in Canada.
Retention of the lands and ensuring that the landscape and culture remain will reflect our commitment as a society to acknowledge the legacy, present and ongoing health and wellness being situated on the site and recognition of the significance in retaining some of the heritage buildings on this remarkable site.
- Anna Tremere, Coquitlam
Editor's note: Anna Tremere worked at səmiq̓ʷəʔelə/Riverview as a student nurse and as a registered psychiatric nurse from 1965 to 2001.