Bring On The Next Generation

Saturday, October 13, 2018 - By: Brian Carr - October 4th, 2018

In 1923 Henry Pollock Hope, Brentwood’s first Headmaster, was invited by a group of Victoria businessmen to create a school for young men in Brentwood Bay in the old Brentwood Bay Hotel which is on the other side of Finlayson Arm. There were sixty boys enrolled in the first year of the school. Notice no crests on their blazers? 

The torch on your blazer - why is it there? From the first annual in 1924 - “Be true to our Ideals. Guard our Honour. Set high our Standards of Excellence - Then - When your time comes to hand on the torch you may justly feel proud in having played your part in the founding of Brentwood.” This is something that resonates with each and everyone of you still today. 

Immediately, it became a successful school in the classroom, theatre and sports arena, achieving provincial championships in rugby, cricket, track and field, tennis and rowing and sending our students to the top universities around the world. They, the student body, even built their own chapel in 1926 that still stands today. On the bottom left corner is the famous 1941 First Fifteen undefeated rugby team with the four Gillespies (three brothers and a cousin). The School survived the Great Depression and the Second World War.  There were a number of grads that went and fought in the Second World War. Mr. M. H. Ellis stepped down as Headmaster in 1939 to serve with the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve and was replaced by Mr. A.C. Privett, who served as Headmaster until 1946. 

Unfortunately, on August 17th, 1947, the school burned down. The staff and Board of Governors tried to keep the school alive, however, on the post-war years, it was not manageable. 

Fast forward to 1961 and from a quote in the 1964 Brentwood yearbook: “Just a little more than three years ago a group of men, all Old Boys of Brentwood, met in Vancouver and decided to put this school, which had been out of existence since 1948, into operation again. The new school had no money, no buildings, no staff and no boys. It did have, however, a very dedicated and talented Board of Governors, for this was the responsibility these gentlemen assumed at that meeting.”

David Mackenzie, the first Headmaster of the new campus, chose this campus over the Fairbridge Farm Society School in Cowichan Station - which was no where near any water!

He and the new Board of Governors chose the old Queen Alexandra Solarium that was built in the 1920s and abandoned in 1958. The Board purchased the buildings and the land in April 1961 for a whopping $100,000. The first year,  September of 1961, Brentwood started with 90 boys in grades 8 through 11. In 1963 the Board of Governors decided to build a dormitory next to the classroom block as well as a gymnasium attached to the dorms. 

In August 1964 my family and I moved onto the Brentwood campus. I was two  - the same age as Sullivan Warner. That was 54 years ago. This is what my Brentwood looked like in 1964 - 

There were only four boarding houses. My dad, Tony Carr, ran Senior House, which became Rogers House from 1964 through to 1983. Hope House was for Grade 8 and 9 boys only and was run by Mr Pope. In September of 1972 Hope House became Alexandra House, the first girls residence on campus. Brentwood was the first coed boarding school in Canada.  

Back to our main buildings

The school would use the gymnasium from 1963 - 1985 when the Woodward Athletic Complex was built. 

The dormitory was short lived - from 1963 to 1965 and it was called Privett House. By 1965 there was a need for more classroom space so the dorms were converted to classrooms and stayed that way until 2012 when we moved into the Centre for the Arts and Humanities.  

1968 through 1969 was a big year for construction on campus. The School moved into the new auditorium, the new Ellis and Privett Houses, and the new dining room, 

This is what the school looked like in 1980 when Mrs Reynolds and I graduated from Brentwood. Since then there has been an incredible transformation from the dilapidated old buildings to the School you inherited from the generations before you. 

This is what your Brentwood looks like today. What an amazing place! 

On October 29th, the old academic block, the original Privett House, along with the old gym, auditorium and dining room are coming down. They enclosed 50+ years of memories to many generations of Brentwood grads. Over 7,000 Brentonians walked these halls, played in this old gym, ate in the dining room and watched concerts and shows in the auditorium. These buildings are just bricks and mortar, but the memories of what took place in these structures will live on in stories and photos. And when you see or speak with your parents this weekend, thank them for this incredible opportunity to be a part of something so unique and so amazing. I would like to leave you with a quote from Phil Schiller that resonates with me and the changes about to be made: “There's a little bit of pain in every transition, but we can't let that stop us from making it. If we did, we'd never make any progress at all.”

I will feel sadness seeing these buildings I grew up with, disappear, however, I am excited to see the next generation of buildings take shape. 

Thank you, 

Brian Carr, Whittall '80

For photos from Brian's please click here:


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