History of Spring Ridge Commons *
The place that we know as Spring Ridge Commons has gone through a number of changes throughout its history to become the food forest it is today.
The plaque situated in the Native Plant Garden provides a bit of history of Spring Ridge Ward Elementary School of which Spring Ridge Commons is named after and also acknowledges the Fernwood Community Associations (FCA) role in facilitating the creation of Spring Ridge Commons.
The plaque at Spring Ridge Common. Originally named Common (singular) the plaque was typo’d on being made. No-one caught or corrected it at least, at that time. Now, some people call it Common, and some Commons.
In 1887 an old time wooden school was built on the site we know today as Spring Ridge Commons; first being called Fourth Ward School, and eventually becoming Spring Ridge Ward School. In 1943 Spring Ridge Ward closed as a public grade school, but reopened as a kindergarten in September 1944. On January 31st, 1957, the school board decided to shut it down and make it into a school board warehouse. The half-acre piece of land that Spring Ridge Commons occupies today ended its school house days on January 4th, 1968, when the school was bulldozed and turned in a parking lot (Ellis, 1989). The Spring Ridge Ward School was the “city’s oldest surviving school house” (Ellis, 1989, p.69).
For almost twenty years the Spring Ridge site became stagnant as a Victoria High School bus parking lot (yes, the soil has been tested), an un-engaging community space (derelict lot) and eventually a pedestrian walk through that had boulders preventing cars on the lot. At one point a coalition of groups attempted to establish drought tolerant plants in some areas of this unforgiving arid site.
For historical information on the Fernwood area prior to 1887, click [here]
* Gratitude to UVic Environmental Studies, ES 341 Ecological Restoration students: Hannah Galloway, Nicole Goldring, Michael Li, Roleen Sevillena and Julia Warren for their research into the history of Spring Ridge Commons. (Spring 2013)
Source: Ellis, J. (1989). The Fernwood Files. Victoria, Canada: Orca Book Publishers.