This Vancouver school just dug up a 100-year-old time capsule for its centennial (PHOTOS + VIDEO)

Vancouver Courier


On Saturday, Sept. 21, Shaughnessy elementary celebrates its centennial with a day of festivities and reflection befitting an institution with a tumultuous century in its rear view mirror.

Shaughnessy elementary principal Janet Souther holds the emptied 100-year-old time capsule in front of where it was extracted. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Of course, much has changed at the West Side school, which was originally named Prince of Wales elementary and high school until 1960 when a separate Prince of Wales high school opened. But one thing has remained — the school’s foundation stone, which was laid by His Royal Highness, Edward, Prince of Wales, Sept. 22, 1919, during a visit to Canada.

Yes, that Edward — the one who briefly became King of England before abdicating his throne to marry American divorcee Mrs. Wallis Simpson in 1937.

H.R.H. Prince of Wales addressing a crowd at Shaughnessy School in 1919. Photo CVA 99-833

A time capsule containing newspapers, coins and mementoes from Edward’s visit was placed inside the foundation stone and all but forgotten until recently. Parent volunteers doing research for the school’s upcoming centennial discovered an old newspaper article on microfilm about the foundation stone ceremony and time capsule.

“And that’s where the adventure began,” said Shaughnessy elementary principal Janet Souther, who had to figure out how to excavate the time capsule without damaging the foundation stone.

Principal Janet Souther shows where tradespeople decided to access the capsule via a stairwell and behind several layers of cement and drywall from systemic upgrades. Photo Dan Toulgoet

After much consultation with tradespeople, they decided to access the capsule via a stairwell and behind several layers of cement and drywall from systemic upgrades. After drilling and removing a portion of the wall, they extracted the greenish glass bottle, which was still intact and sealed with wax. An archivist from the city opened the capsule, carefully unpacking its contents, which will be on display in the school library at the Sept. 21 centennial celebrations.

Contents of the time capsule include coins, newspapers and mementoes from Prince Edward’s visit in 1919. Photo Dan Toulgoet

“This kind of experience makes history real for our students,” Souther said. “It brings to life the kinds of things that they are learning and it makes them recognize that as they move forward […] maybe we’ll put in another time capsule and that they will be part of history as well.”

Time in a bottle

In preparing for Shaughnessy elementary's 100th anniversary, the school discovered a time capsule has been placed inside its foundation stone in 1919.Here's what they found.

Posted by Vancouver Courier News on Wednesday, September 18, 2019

For more information on Shaughnessy elementary school’s centennial, go to


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