“The Best That We Can Be” Save Riverside School from Demolition

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In a July 5, 2018 Medicine Hat News article by Gillian Slade, the community was made aware of the sale and slated demolition of Riverside School. The school site was sold to Covenant Health, which plans to use the land for seniors’ housing and continuing care programs.

This petition aims to:

1) Demonstrate a community interest in Riverside School through comments and signatures; and
2) Request that Covenant Health/Covenant Care preserve the original 1916 Riverside School building within the architectural plans for their proposed site.

Riverside School was built in 1916 and has been a defining historic building in the neighbourhood of Riverside for 102 years. It opened just ten years after our community was established as a city and operated as a school until June 2017.

It’s always tough saving old buildings, because it’s easier to tear them down. However, long term there is a real cost that is paid by our community--all the history that is lost. Medicine Hat has shown over the years that historic buildings matter, this is evidenced by many that have been repurposed and are in use today. This building matters to our community.

Historic community buildings, neighborhoods, and landscapes embody the intentions, assumptions, and lives of those who built or lived or worked in them. They have stories to tell about what the community was and how it became what it is, and that helps us understand who we are. Preserving those stories can be an important part of building a healthy community. (Section 7. Encouraging Historic Preservation)

To show your support in saving Riverside School from demolition, leave your comments and sign the petition here.

For an insightful look at the school as it was just before closing, check out Editing Luke’s webpage.

Many former students have expressed their concerns over seeing their school torn down, here are few responses:

  • “A lot of us went to that school even out own kids signed a wall and that will be demolished.” - Torrie Hinzman
  • “Yes, the time capsule. I remember putting something in there as a child… Riverside is a historical building in Medicine. It would be nice to see the building restored. The building could be modified to accommodate a home for the elderly as well as a daycare. There is a lot of opportunity for the building that wouldn’t involved it getting town down. One of the trees that is planted at the school was planted in memory of one of the children in my brother’s class, which might also get knocked down. Her name was Ashley Baron and she passed away from leukemia a couple of weeks after we placed our belongings in the time capsule.” - Kaleigh Joy
  • “Nooo. That school was my favourite part of my childhood. That school means so much to me and I would love to see it saved.” - Katelyn Robinson
  • “That was my school!!!!” - Sheela and Joan Trotter
  • “A building that has now stood through time for 102 years. To some, it is an old brick building; an empty vessel. But to countless others, it represents a portion of their childhood memory. A piece of nostalgia that represents much more than just a school. In 1999, a grade 4 student by the name of Ashley Dawn Baron succumbed to her illness of Myelodysplastic syndrome. A tree was planted on the Northeast lot directly in front of Riverside School in her memory. To me, this tree represents on ongoing life that she was robbed of at such a young age.” - Kole McArther

Photo circa 1917. Thanks to Esplanade Archives.