The Young Building 1913-1915

The Young Building on Camosun’s Lansdowne campus was built between 1913-1915 and designed by Vancouver architect W.C.F. Gillan. It was named after Dr. Henry Esson Young, a community member active in Victoria’s educational community.  It was originally built as Victoria’s first Normal School and used as a military hospital during World War II.

Over the years, the building has housed the Victoria Normal School, Victoria College (which later became the University of Victoria), and the Institute of Adult Studies. In 1971, the building became part of Camosun College.

An 18-month exterior restoration of the Young Building was completed in the fall of 2000. The Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology invested $7.8 million in the project while the Camosun College Foundation raised a further $500,000 from generous community and corporate donors to help complete the project.

The iconic Young Building is still one of the most photographed spots at Camosun.

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  1. THE YOUNG BUILDING’S VAULT: Did you know there used to be a walk-in vault in the Young building? I didn’t until an unforeseen and possibly tragic event enlightened me. It was sometime in the late 1980s, I was Co-ordinator for Human Services Programs, and asked to update the recorded program information used by prospective students. Student Services had a cassette tape (remember this is the 1980s) for each program which needed periodic updating. Susan Toresdahl from Student Services was the one with the tape recorder, and we needed a very quiet place to record my words. Susan’s choice was the vault in the Young building.

    It was large, sound-proof, located in the Faculty Association’s office and being used for storage. So, on a Friday afternoon on the eve of a long weekend we entered the vault and closed the door. Big mistake: one we didn’t realize until an hour or so later when preparing to leave. The door didn’t open from the inside. Only one person knew we were in there. Were they still around?

    We called, we banged, we panicked. And we waited. It’s true you really get to know things about yourself and others when something like this happens – not all good either! Would we be here for three days until someone found us on Tuesday, when would our family notice us missing, would anyone know where to look, where would you have a pee? Silly what goes through your mind in a crisis.

    Then at the last moment, just before the college closed, there was a sound. A beautiful, reassuring sound of a human voice on the other side of the vault door. Saved!

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