Celebrating the century: 100 years of preparing educators


The UVic Faculty of Education is celebrating 100 years of preparing educators in Victoria with a range of events that began with a forum and celebratory dinner on Oct. 3. 

There is an unbroken chain from the current Faculty of Education reaching back a century—and UVic is proud to have many alumni from its earliest years (and from Victoria College) still involved in our work. In every corner of BC and far beyond, our educators serve at many different levels of the school system, government and private enterprises, applying what they learned to make education better for others. Teacher training has grown from preparing teachers for the classroom to inspiring and educating a diverse range of students who study in fields such as exercise science, physical and health education, educational psychology, leadership and Indigenous education. 

Before the opening of the Victoria Normal School in 1915, teachers were prepared for the profession in other parts of Canada, including the Vancouver Normal School. The provision of education for elementary teachers on Vancouver Island was a significant step forward for our city and local schools. 

As UVic historian Dr. Iain MacPherson waggishly noted in Reaching Outward and Upward, his history of UVic, the faculty “grew steadily, partly because, in addition to serving schools on Vancouver Island, it taught many students from ‘beyond Hope,’ as they were colloquially called, because they came from the interior of the province to the east and north of the community of Hope. The faculty developed particularly strong ties with communities in the Okanagan and the Kootenays, in the process pioneering in the development of distance education at UVic.”

Though it sounds strange to modern ears, the term “normal school” does not refer to the people who attended it or worked there; it comes from the French École Normale—a college to prepare teachers to deliver course content in a standardized way. The Victoria Normal School building at the corner of Lansdowne and Richmond roads is now a visual hallmark of Camosun College’s Lansdowne campus.

 In 1942, the building was converted into a military hospital for service personnel who had been wounded abroad, forcing teacher education to move to a downtown nightclub, and then to Memorial Hall, next to Christ Church Cathedral. 

After World War II, the Normal School shared its premises with Victoria College. In 1956, the provincial government wound down the Normal School, created the College of Education and amalgamated it into Victoria College. When UVic replaced Vic College in 1963, the College of Education became UVic’s Faculty of Education. 

As part of its centennial celebration, the faculty is planning a number of future events and will seek enhancement to the Dr. Jean Downie Dey Centennial Scholarship in honour of one of its retired professors. Dey came to campus the same year that UVic became a university, and left a legacy gift that establishes this scholarship to support full tuition for one or more students who would otherwise find it financially difficult to study. Like other forms of anniversary celebrations, which look backward to find connections to the future, this scholarship celebrates the continuity of preparing educators in Victoria—100 years strong and counting.


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Keywords: alumni, education, community, teaching

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