Chesterfield House

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If you live in North Vancouver you may have noticed the old Tudor-style house at Chesterfield and Osborne in the upper Lonsdale Area.

Chesterfield House School

It’s hard to see these days, because several years ago we allowed developers to build two large “carriage” houses, in what was once a magnificent garden filled with hollies, laburnums, cedars, black walnuts, a cherry tree, a rose garden, and a large rhododendron.

Chesterfield House School
Chesterfield School ca.1920. Cyril Eddowes Halsey Williams is front row fourth from the right. Courtesy Eric L. Williams

I was reminded again of its story this week when Eric Williams kindly sent me this photo of his father’s school class.

Chesterfield House became a boy’s school in 1913 after it moved from its first location at the corner of 14th and Lonsdale. The grounds covered several lots and included two buildings—the main house with dorms, a dining room and offices, and the school house with classrooms and science labs. There was also a gymnasium, a swimming pool, and a stable for six horses.

Chesterfield House School
Chesterfield School ca.1920. Courtesy Eric L. Williams

As Eric points out, you can see the British influence in everything from the style of the

Chesterfield House School
Chesterfield House, courtesy NVMA 4528

building to the clothes worn by teachers and the boy’s uniforms.

“My father doesn’t seem to be particularly happy at that moment, but subsequently delighted in relating anecdotes concerning the pranks the boys played on each other,” says Eric.

Eric’s father, (Canon) Cyril Eddowes Halsey Williams went on to study at the Anglican Theological College (now Vancouver School of Theology) at UBC. After graduating he was posted to the Yukon and later to the interior. He wrote a book called Archdeacon on Horseback, a year before his death in 1992.

Chesterfield House School
Chesterfield house now a rental apartment building peaking out between two “carriage houses.” Eve Lazarus photo

According to Sharon Proctor’s story in Express, Chesterfield operated in the British tradition with male teachers and ties to the Anglican Church. “Its goal was to prepare boys for entrance to Universities, Royal Naval and Military Colleges, and business.” The Chesterfield Boy Scout program consisted of 20 boys who were frequently dispatched to fight local forest fires.

Chesterfield House School
Chesterfield House from Osborne Road West. You can reach out and touch the wall of the “Carriage” house. Eve Lazarus photo.

The school closed in 1942 and was converted into an apartment building. It’s the only part of the school that still exists.

 Thanks to Tom Carter for “stitching” the very large photo into one piece.

© All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Eve Lazarus.

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4 comments

  1. I grew up at 26th and Jones in North Vancouver, my mother having grown up at St Georges and 13th… the.Chesterfield school building close by
    The house I grew up in had its foundation poured the day I was born, in June 1946, and Chesterfield school was well known to our family for awhile since we had family housed there by North Van City.

    Remember that this was BEFORE 1961, so each local government in BC was responsible for any welfare, or similar assistance to be provided to their residents. The “Residents and Responsibilities” legislation meant that if someone applied to any local government for “relief or welfare” the local government where they were currently living HAD to provide assistance, but if the person or family had not lived in that jurisdiction for 6 months, and the previous jurisdiction was within BC, the local government providing the welfare, was legally able to charge those costs back to the place they had lived previously….

    My aunt and uncle and two daughters had been living close to us on 26th Street…but when my uncle lost his job, and eventually his house, North Vancouver City housed the whole family in an upstairs 2.5 room housekeeping suite in the old Chesterfield School building.

    Neither my cousins or I were in school yet, so the whole family but mostly the girls, spent a great deal of time with us….Having moved from a house and garden in our neighbourhood, to this very cramped facility ..It also didnt have a full service kitchen…just a hotplate….and a fridge shared with others in the hall, so my recollection is that since my sister and I were not yet allowed to eat in the dining room with mum and dad, we used to have a family dinner about 4.30 in our kitchen with all of us, except my mum and dad eating, and then when my dad got home from work around 6PM, my parents would have their dinner in the dining room…..

    Funny how these pictures bring this back…I ran into a similar kind of arrangement in New Westminster years later, when it was clear that the Loyal Orange Home there ( women and children only, no men over 12 years of age) had been used the same way by the City of New Westminster…but that it had been very difficult when one of the boys living there with his mother and siblings reached 12, to decide whether to bend the rules and let him stay, or to find another accommodation for the whole family…

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