Six months in the life of J. A. Harper, Principal – Lord Selkirk Elementary, as revealed by the documents he issued and received during that time.

Featured Photo: Students at Lord Selkirk learn telephone courtesy thanks to phones on long-time loan from BC Tel.


From January to June, 1966, Principal J.A. Harper retained all documents that passed his desk. At some point much later, this collection was sent to the Vancouver School Board District Archives for safekeeping. Below is a list of these documents sorted into categories and arranged chronologically. This collection provides a fascinating glimpse into the role, duties, and challenges faced by elementary school principals in the Vancouver School District during the 1960s.


From: British Columbia Department of Education

  • Form D –Teacher’s Annual Report to the Principal for the School-Year Ending June 30, 1966
  • Announcements Circular (May 1966) – Provincial Curriculum Consultants
  • Administrative Circular – Teachers cannot be Passport Guarantors
  • Prescribed School Days and Days in Session – School Year 1965-1966
  • British Columbia Government News (January-February, 1966) – 1966 Provincial Budget Forecasts Lower Taxes and Record Expenditures
  • British Columbia School Calendar 1966
  • Curriculum Publications – Elementary
  • Administrative Circular (February 1966) – Centennial Celebrations, 1966-67 – Tree Planting Programme


From: Vancouver School Board

  • Reminder of in-service meetings for Grade 7 Arithmetic Program
  • Memo to All Principals and Special Counsellors: Allocation of Special Counsellors for 1966-67
  • Memo to Principals of Elementary Schools re Arithmetic Recall Aids for Grades 2 to 7
  • January 10, 1966: Report from VSB Department of Research and Special Services to All Principals advising them of tentative dates for a variety of standard tests for students in Kindergarten to Grade 9.
  • Report from VSB Department of Research and Special Services: Analysis of Student Performance on a Grade Four Arithmetic Test
  • March 1966: Notice to Principals of Elementary Schools and Heads of Annexes advising them of two articles (attached): An Open Letter to the Mother of a “Stuttering“ Child; It’s Up To You – helping children to communicate.
  • March 1966: Vancouver School Board DIALOGUE – This publication dealt with five items: Evaluation of Pupil Learning; Progress in Course Revisions; Announcement of three “dinner conferences”: March 31 – Administrators; April 19 – Elementary staff representatives and members of VESTA; May 12 – Secondary staff representatives and members VSSTA , and representatives of Vancouver City College. This to be followed by an all-day seminar of trustees and VSB officials.
  • April 19, 1966: Memo to Principals of Elementary Schools re the results of ‘California’ tests that were given to Grade IV students on May 17, 1965.
  • April 22, 1966: Memo to Principals of Elementary Schools re Arithmetic Recall Aids for Grades 2 to 7.
  • May 03, 1966: Meeting of Principals of Elementary Schools
  • June 17, 1966: Memo to All Principals advising them not to distribute tickets for free admission to the PNE as the PNE had already designated certain days for free admission.
  • June 20, 1966: Announcements related to ‘Buildings and Grounds’ and ‘Sick Leave’.
  • June 23, 1966 Elementary Schools (CORRECTED COPY – please destroy previous list) – Assignment of Vice-Principals, Acting Vice-Principals, and Senior Assistants, for the School Year 1966-67)
  • June 27, 1966: Memo to All Music Teachers regarding the formation of a Teachers’ Choir
  • Superintendent’s Bulletins
  • Publications for Parents
  • Notices to Principals/Vice Principals
  • PTA Newsletter (June 28, 1966)


From Lord Selkirk elementary

  • November, 1965: Lord Selkirk – VSB FORM: Organization and Accommodation
  • ­­­January 08: Letter from Holiday Theatre announcing dates of their annual tour of Vancouver elementary schools
  • February 17, 1966 – Thank You letters from Grade Two students at Selkirk Annex thanking a Mr. Harper for a coloured picture he donated to the school
  • March 07 – typed letter from Principal J.A. Harper to Summit Industries (Highland Park, Illinois) requesting a set of stamp impressions.
  • March 10 – 8×10 copy of a B&W VSB photo depicting a young boy and girl posing with a baby goat.
  • April 01, 1966 – Letter from James Grey, VSB Art Supervisor, VSB to Principals and Art Teachers re Centennial Projects.
  • May 16 – Instructions to Staff for the five days leading to Sport Day on Friday, May 20.
  • May 27, 1966 – Letter to Mr. E. J. Irwin, Inspector of Elementary Schools from Principal J.A. Harper complaining about the announced plan to put classrooms in the basements of a number of schools. (Reply from E. J. Irwin, dated June 15 stating that work will proceed on the construction of a basement room at Lord Selkirk, and that Lord Selkirk School “will receive very high priority in the overall plans for provision of outdoor covered play areas.”
  • June 03, 1966 – hand written record of donations (listed by class) made to the Junior Red Cross. Total: $665
  • Programme for the Last Day (hand written, no date).
  • June 16, 1966: Invoice from Hazeldine Press Ltd. for 500 Certificates of Merit.
  • June 17, 1966: letter
  • Lord Selkirk School: Year-End Closing Booklet 1966 – Part B
  • June Check-Off List for Staff (no date)
  • June 22, 1966: Letter from J.G. Hannan, Operations Superintendent to Engineer-Custodians giving instructions on how to order fuel oil (Principal J.A. Harper is cc’d.)
  • Wednesday, June 27, 1966 – Instruction Sheet to Staff for the last day of classes
  • June 29, 1966 – Hand written program for Intermediate Assembly
  • June 29, 1966: letter from a parent requesting Principal Harper’s help in getting a student who took his son’s watch to return it.
  • One Page document entitled LORD SELKIRK SCHOOL: RULES FOR GENERAL CONDUCT (no date)


From: British Columbia Teachers Federation

  • The BC Teacher (May-June 1966 Vol. 45 – NO.8)
  • BC Teachers Federation – The Elementary Schools of British Columbia – What is Entitlement and What are the Results? (The focus of this study was on staffing numbers in schools.)
  • Programmed Instructional materials for Revised Elementary School Mathematics


Other Sources

  • Centennial Spokesman
  • Visit of Queen Mother Planned for March 18 (February 1966)
  • Hydroplanes, Vintage Cars to Be Featured in Major Centennial Celebration Events (April 1966)
  • British Columbia Student Fund, Student Tours – Two Projects of Educational Affairs Committee (May 1966)
  • Six-man Canoe Race Down Fraser River To Be Followed by Cross-Canada Tour (June 1966)
  • World’s Fastest Boats in July Races at Kelowna (July 1966)
  • Royal Bank of Canada Monthly Letters
  • March 1966, ‘A Citizen of Canada’
  • June 1966, ‘The Province of Quebec’
  • UNICEF – “What Is UNICEF Up to Now?’   Hallowe’en Committee – “Trick or Treat for UNICEF”
  • Basic Spelling List for GRADE FOUR (Curriculum Office, Philadelphia Public Schools, 1956)
  • Your Health (a Christmas Seal Publication)
  • Reflections (Published by the Canadian Naturopathic Profession)
  • That All May Learn (Office of Special Education, The Bellevue Public Schools (Bellevue, Washington)
  • Home Unsafe Home (Public Health Bulletin)
  • Elementary School Notes (Science Issue) Science as a Structural Discipline
  • The Canadian Audio-Visual Review (May-June)
  • British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority (Fourth Annual Report – Year ending March 1966
  • Handwriting Suggestions (Curriculum Office – Philadelphia Public Schools 1961)
  • Public Health Bulletin – “Home Unsafe Home” (April 1966)
  • What is Our Wildlife Worth? (Reprinted from C-I-L OVAL, Summer, 1965. Courtesy of Canadian Industries Limited)