Devonshire Community Public School

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Devonshire Community Public School is an elementary school in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB). Located at 100 Breezehill Avenue North, the school provides single-track Early French Immersion (EFI) programming for the surrounding Hintonburg, Mechanicsville, Centretown, Lebreton Flats and Civic Hospital neighbourhoods.

As of 2011, there are currently 380 students enrolled in classes from junior kindergarten to grade six.

Architecture[edit]

Devonshire Community Public School was built in 1910. Its Collegiate Gothic style is typical of Ottawa schools of this era. It features a Tudor arch entranceway, stone and brick details and stone foundation common to these structures. Its large windows and plan reflect its use as a school and the emphasis placed on providing adequate light and air circulation. For instance, the windows were designed specifically to allow sunshine to reach the interior wall of each classroom, thereby maximizing natural light and creating a healthy learning environment for its children.

History[edit]

Soon after the rapidly expanding village of Hintonburg was annexed by the City of Ottawa in 1907, the City secured the Slater Estate on the west side of Breezehill Avenue for the location of a new public school. A year later, the City of Ottawa designated funding for two schools on Breezehill Avenue: one public and one Catholic. Located at the eastern edge of the Hintonburg neighbourhood, the school was sited on a generous parcel of land with a girl’s play yard on the south, a boy’s play yard on the north and a front lawn between the building and street. At the time of its opening in 1910, the school was called Breezehill Avenue Public School.

The original eight-room school was designed in the popular Collegiate Gothic style by Ottawa Board of Education architect William B. Garvock. Hintonburg and surrounding areas expanded rapidly after the opening of the new school. The school was soon at capacity. As a result, substantial additions were made to each end of the building to accommodate eight more classrooms in 1920. The design was the work of Garvock’s successor, W.C. Beattie, who also developed the decorative panel treatment on the blank walls of the additions. In 1921, the Duke of Devonshire, Canada’s Governor General, attended the reopening of the school. The school was renamed “Devonshire” in his honour.

Devonshire housed the Sunshine Class for Crippled Children under the direction of Winnifred Hunt. At the time, similar classes, sponsored by the Rotarian Club, could be found throughout North America. The Sunshine Class moved to another location in 1931, when Devonshire became an intermediate school. W.K. Jeffery designed a gymnasium and further additions to the school in 1931.

In 1974, Devonshire underwent another major renovation, which replaced the original gymnasium with a larger structure and change rooms.

In 2003, Devonshire was slated to be closed by the Ottawa Carleton District School Board. The local community rallied to ensure that Devonshire stayed open; the school was removed from the closure list in 2005, and enrolment has been growing steadily ever since.

In 2008, the City of Ottawa granted a heritage designation to Devonshire Community Public School, thereby recognizing its cultural heritage value, history and importance to the surrounding community. The Hintonburg Community Association has been particularly supportive of the school and its role as a community school.

Devonshire celebrated its centennial in 2010, opening a 25-year old time capsule created by students in 1985, holding a public celebration, and sealing a new time capsule for future students, staff and families, to be opened in 2035. Volunteers took the opportunity to collect memorabilia and stories about the school; these valuable archives and recorded history will be made available to the public.

One hundred years after it was built, Devonshire’s community has continued to grow, both in number and diversity. A survey completed by volunteers in 2010 estimates over 23 languages spoken at the school. In addition, Devonshire achieved Silver EcoSchool certification in 2010, the first OCDSB school to be recognized for its school-wide achievement in energy conservation, waste minimization, ecological literacy and school ground greening.

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