It was a blustery, chilly afternoon when the Board members of Thompson Community Association and the Richmond Schoolyard Society ventured out to have a look at the inside of the Edwardian Cottage. Many of them had not been out to the site yet so Kate and I were excited to share this special and unique building with them.
The history of Terra Nova and its heritage buildings is fascinating. The Cottage dates back to 1923 and one cannot help but daydream about the people who lived in the house on this rich land, working hard to provide for their families. What was a day like for them? What stories did they share? What would they say now if they could see the changes in the area? Kate and I have a passion for creating a social and historical context for our students, no matter their age. We want them to understand their Richmond roots; the continuum of life. We place importance on building connections to the past, the present and the future. We hope to incorporate much of this learning when we begin our journey in September!
Bundled up with scarves around our necks and gloves on our hands, we wandered down the rough driveway to the Cottage. This diverse group of individuals walking beside me were all there for the same reason–to see the home of the new Terra Nova Nature Preschool opening in September, 2014. Would everyone immediately see the beauty and potential that Kate and I saw? Could they see past the creaky floor, peeling paint, half deconstructed bathroom and the shingled wood walls?
As Alex opened the door, everyone began to stream in, anxious to see the building . Everyone dispersed, wandering around the small building, and checking out the rooms. Finally, the first person spoke. And, then another, echoing her thoughts. YES!! They did see the secrets that lie within. Kate and I shared our vision of the rooms–the Studio Room, the Quiet Room (yet to be named), the Open Space for free play, group time, and eating together. We stood in the kitchen and talked about how we would cook the food from our garden. We grappled with the lack of space for cubbies, knowing that with some good planning and creative thinking, we would come up with a solution. Then we headed back outside, dreaming of a re-creating the front porch that was once a part of the building. We marvelled at the wide variety of mature trees with fondness.
Ian Lai, the Director of the Richmond Schoolyard Society, briefly gave some history of the Society’s work on the land–they have done amazing projects over the years, connecting children to their land. The excitement bubbled inside me as I allowed myself to imagine the future– preschoolers working with school age children to care for the land, creating art and food and learning how to take care of their community.
This quaint cottage will be the place where children can be children– laughing, exploring, learning, uniting. We know we have many treasures waiting for us! As with any renovation we know there will be many challenges ahead but, in keeping with our philosophy of process over product, we know we will find great joy throughout this exciting journey!
Until next time,