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Update: Bishop Feild College in St. John's turns 175

Bishop Feild School in St. John's. The school stood in as the police station in the TV show "Republic of Doyle."
Bishop Feild School in St. John's. A event to celebrate the school's 175th anniversary will take place Aug. 9-11 at the ReMax Centre in St. John's. - Contributed

Anniversary event set for Aug. 9-11 at ReMax Centre, will celebrate Feildian traditions

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

For the past 175 years, the Feildian tradition has been a hallmark of life in St. John’s.

This great achievement — reaching 175 years old — will be celebrated by old and new Feildians alike during an anniversary planned for Aug. 9-11 at the ReMax Centre.

Chris Facey is chairing a committee that has worked on this project and he is excited to share his history and that of all Feildians since the school’s inception in the 1840s.

“This is the only downtown core school that remains in the entire city,’’ Facey said.

“It is the fifth oldest operating school in the country outside of a university. We are proud of our history and it is my hope that all the new Feildians approach the school in the same way,’’ he added.

Putting together a celebration, especially one for a 175th anniversary, is no small task. But the committee overseeing the celebration planned for Bishop Feild College that is set for Aug. 9-11 at the ReMax Centre in St. John’s is in the homestretch. Committee members, led by chairman Chris Facey (left), Brad Stone (chair of the school advisory council) and Dick Cook met on Tuesday to go over several plans. Facey and Cook are both lifelong Feildians.
Putting together a celebration, especially one for a 175th anniversary, is no small task. But the committee overseeing the celebration planned for Bishop Feild College that is set for Aug. 9-11 at the ReMax Centre in St. John’s is in the homestretch. Committee members, led by chairman Chris Facey (left), Brad Stone (chair of the school advisory council) and Dick Cook met on Tuesday to go over several plans. Facey and Cook are both lifelong Feildians.

Many activities are planned for the weekend, including a meet and greet on Friday night, class reunions on Saturday, a Feildian Fun Day event from 1-3 p.m. at the Feildian Grounds, a dinner and dance on Saturday night at the ReMax Centre and a Sunday morning walk to church event that will conclude the celebrations.

Facey and seven others make up the committee that has organized the anniversary celebrations. In addition to the activities, this event will serve as a fundraiser for the wish list of items sought for the school, items that include bursary letters totalling $250 up to a huge wish of restoring an 1855

Chickering Grand Piano with a price tag affixed at approximately $18,000.

Other items include iPads, a bass xylophone, sports equipment, musical instruments, a 3-D printer and a host of books and resources — in both English and French.

Committee member Dick Cook said these events are great places to go and rekindle old friendships and start new ones.

He hopes the community will come out and be part of the celebration, and in a few short weeks that will be known.

“Obviously we want to make a big splash of this. Chris and I are Feildians and will be for life. Many of our friends are also Feildians, but we want to reach those who will be — and their families,” Cook said.

A portion of the school's gymnasium roof collapsed two years ago, and the students were moved to the vacant School for the Deaf on Topsail Road.

This wasn’t ideal for the Feildians, but it was a work around.

It took the school board some time to figure out a solution, but eventually Eastern Contracting was hired to complete the work — both externally and internally. 

Bishop Feild College in St. John’s prior to 1928.
Bishop Feild College in St. John’s prior to 1928.

In addition, because of the issue with the school, it was difficult to find a place that could host an event of this size. Once they determined approximately how many would be involved, they set out to find a space that could accommodate a group of this size and the ReMax Centre was the option they arrived at.

“When the school was damaged two years ago, and we had to move to the School for the Deaf. We had to push to get it back here,’’ Facey said.

“The children are bused there right now, but it is not the same. This is a downtown school and extensive work is being done to, hopefully, be back in by January 2020,” he added.

He said the school is walking distance for most of the downtown students in both the English and French streams, but some students have come in from as far away as Torbay.

“There is a wait list to get in there,’’ said Brad Stone, vice-chair of the 175th Bishop Feild reunion committee.

“In the past day or so, there has been lots of interest shown. As it gets closer, people seem to come out of the woodwork to be involved,’’ he added, noting the vast number of dedicated people in the school community.

Bishop Edward Feild.
Bishop Edward Feild.

The Feildians gather at the Golden Phoenix once a month to go over the order of the day, plans for the future or successes they have had on recent endeavours.

Their next meeting will be on July 15, the final one prior to the anniversary celebrations. Facey will bring the group up to speed on how plans are progressing.

A storied history

Bishop Feild College, founded in 1844, is a school in St. John’s. Founded as the Church of England Academy, it was renamed as the Church of England College in 1892, before its 1894 name change to Bishop Feild College. The renaming was in honour of Bishop Edward Feild, a school inspector and the second bishop of Newfoundland.

The school represented one of the few places children could get a high-quality education in St. John’s for most of the 19th century. Feild was aware of the lack of quality educational opportunities in the community and set up a school for boys in 1844.

Although it’s not the same school that now bears his name on Bond Street, the creation of this school marks the beginning of Bishop Feild College in Newfoundland.

The school boasts an impressive list of alumni, including one governor, two lieutenant-governors, one premier, two federal cabinet ministers, five senators, four bishops, 15 judges, four mayors and 15 Rhodes scholars.

Among the more famous alumni are former premier Joey Smallwood, John Crosbie, NTV president Geoff Sterling and CBC sports broadcaster Bob Cole. Students of the school also served with distinction in combat. Many of the students and graduates fought in both World Wars, earning over 30 military honours.

The current school was built in 1928 and replaced the old Bishop Feild College, which had become severely run down. Bishop Feild College was recognized as a registered heritage structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in June 1994.

Anyone wishing to purchase tickets or wondering about costs for the various events can contact Chris Facey at 709-754-2143 or via email at chris@faceyfinancial.com.


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