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Connaught School celebrates its history amidst uncertain future

REGINA — Walking down 13th Avenue wearing period clothing like a corset, long skirt and heels, Annabel Townsend stood out.

“I like dressing up, so any excuse really!” she laughed.

On Monday, dozens took in a tour of Regina’s Cathedral Neighbourhood. They stopped to look at houses and businesses in historical buildings.

The final stop — Regina’s oldest school: Connaught.

There, a plaque was unveiled marking its place in history. It was made possible by a grant from Canada’s Ministry of Canadian Heritage.

“We wanted to have something lasting that people 100 years from now will be able to look at that plaque and sort of contemplate the school and its history in the neighbourhood,” said Trish Elliott of the Connaught Centennial Committee.

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The timing of the unveiling is ironic. There are over 100 years in the school’s past, but its future is uncertain.

“There are some concerns about the physical condition of the building and that’s being monitored,” said Regina School Board trustee Carla Beck.

Supporters of the school hoped the building could be restored, but only months ago the school board voted to tear down Connaught and rebuild it. There are still many questions though, including where it would be located or when it would be built. Everything depends on provincial funding.

“The decision about what will happen with a new build right now rests with the ministry and whether or not those funds are forthcoming,” explained Beck, whose kids actually attend Connaught School.

Despite the school’s future being up in the air, many people came to celebrate the honour, which was awarded before it was known the school might be demolished.

“We’re trying to support Connaught because my daughter will be going there if it’s still here at that age,” said Townsend.

The plaque is not an official designation of heritage status, but Elliott says some local citizens want to apply for one, preferably with the board’s help.

“We hope the school board will consider it because once you are designated it unleashes a number of federal grants that can be put towards restoration,” she explained.

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