It is impossible not to see this prominent landmark at Jockvale and Strandherd when moving about Barrhaven. It is one of only a handful of designated heritage sites in our community, and the sole site that is not an old farmhouse. The Old Jockvale School House was originally built by Irish Catholic immigrants in 1841 with logs and subsequently rebuilt using brick in 1906. It was built as a one room school house that taught children in eight grades. The school closed in 1965 but continued to be used for various activities and events by the community. During the Second World War it was a distribution center for ration books, and following that the Barrhaven Lions Club held frequent meetings, celebrations and events and to this day their friendship arch is proudly on display. Prior to the establishment of the South Nepean Muslim Community (SNMC) mosque, our local Muslim community used the schoolhouse to host local events and for a safe space for prayer and worship. What a journey for this small but impactful building!
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to walk through this historical site and to discuss the current status with city staff to discuss options to revitalize this Barrhaven gem. The situation at present is that significant renovations are required to the tune of about $1 Million – this is to upgrade the structure and to bring it into code compliance. We are looking into a series of business cases that would allow for appropriate renovations to transition the Jockvale School into a usable function. This will include a financing programme (public, private, non-profit fundraising), and options for potential usage. This will definitely not be an overnight affair to plan and implement, as I will not let us ‘rush to failure’. There will definitely be challenges ahead – but I am committed to seeing this landmark reinstated as a prominent and functional heritage building in Barrhaven.
Over the next few weeks and months I plan on meeting with and hosting conversations with community leaders from our Community Association, Business Improvement Area, the Rotary Club, Lions Club, senior association, historical societies, local residents and most importantly, as many of the past students who attended this school as possible in order to hear their thoughts and ideas for the next chapter of this building. If you attended the Jockvale School house as a student, please reach out to my office to talk about your experiences and if you have an idea about what this site offers and how our community can make the best use of this beautiful heritage site please let us know. This rehabilitation process will be a community led affair!
To share your thoughts or ideas, or if you have a concern and would like to chat with me in person, please reach out to my office as I would love to meet with you at the office or at your place. We can have a coffee or watch the traffic patterns – I am flexible and keen to be engaged so I can best represent you. Just reach out to me at: David.Hill@ottawa.ca or call: 613-580-2473. Have a great Autumn season and I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming community event!
Featured Image: This photo of the Jockvale School House is from http://www.oneroomschoolhouses.ca/nepean-township.html and is part of a series of descriptions of the local school houses in the area before Barrhaven officially existed. The photo was taken in 1906 after it was rebuilt with bricks.