By Andrea Tomkins –
Many area residents mourned the demolition of Broadview Public School in 2017. Broadview Avenue Public School (or Broadway, as it was originally called), first opened its doors in 1914 but was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt in 1916 and again in 1927 after a second fire. Additions to the school were added in the forties and fifties.
Broadview parent, Albert Kaprielian, took it upon himself to memorialize the school in a book that promises to be a thoughtful memento. To be published later this month, it will include historical photographs and history of the school, photos of the demolition, of the new school, and more.
Albert is a stay-at-home dad to three sons, all of whom attend the new Broadview P.S. Originally from Toronto, Albert comes by his interest in history naturally. His mother is a historian. “I’ve grown up in a family that appreciated history and I’ve always had an affinity for old buildings and derelict buildings,” says Albert.
In fact, it was a major source of inspiration for his photography back in Toronto. “My brother and I would actually go into abandoned buildings,” laughs Albert. “We’d climb fences and go places we shouldn’t have been going.” He and his brother took photos of their adventures, which cemented a love of photographing buildings that were slated to disappear.
“I don’t know why, but I love the look of the broken down stuff, the demolition, buildings that have served a purpose and had a life, like Broadview,” he says.
Albert’s background is in music and law and he worked as a legal writer and editor and law clerk as well as a freelance writer and photographer. Currently, Albert is a professional musician in a jazz trio.
Like many Broadview families, his family was part of the old school before they moved into the new one in September 2016.
He walked his kids to and from school when they were young and volunteered at the school as well. When it came time to tear the old school down, he felt it was an event that had to be documented.
“For me, and for other parents as well, it was this kind of nostalgic kind of experience. You understand why they’re taking it down,” says Albert. “We know that the building was not a great building – it wasn’t clean or safe in some respects – but you still feel sad about it…. it’s part of their lives, part of where they lived and spent so much of their time.”
Albert’s book includes the historical background of Broadview as well as photos from its centennial celebrations in 2016. There’s a section on the new school as well, including photos of a temporary construction barrier that was built between the old site and the new one, which was decorated by Broadview children under the guidance of artist, Marc Walter.
This unique tribute includes student photography of the old school. Poetic descriptions are paired with most of the photos as well.
Albert hopes to have copies for sale during the annual Broadview book sale in May.
A small print run is planned and he anticipates that former and current Broadview families and staff will be interested in this book. Ottawa history buffs –as well as neighbours and area residents who have a connection to the school – will also find it a touching tribute.
“Broadview has been around for a long time, and has seen a lot of people,” says Albert.
The oldest part of the building – called the Tower – is still standing and has official heritage designation. Although its fate is still unknown, Albert would like to see it repurposed into a shared space for an arts co-operative with studios that artists of all kinds can rent.
There’s a website in progress and plans for a book launch. Until then, for more information about the book or about upcoming appearances, contact Albert by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This feature is brought to you in part by Engel & Völkers Ottawa Central, Brokerage.