Public Engagement – Interesting bits 

The former Robert Bateman/Lord Elgin High School now undergoing renovations

On Wednesday (Oct 18th), I attended a public engagement meeting on the future of Robert Bateman/Lord Elgin High School. The City was looking for public feedback on the potential uses for the building. During the presentation, several bits of Information were mentioned.

  1. Parking – There is a lot of talk about the need for more parking at the school and whether the football field will need to be paved over. Between the Library, Brock’s Teachers College and the Board of Education, the demand for parking spaces will be greater than the current spaces.
  2. Seventy-five percent of the school space is already committed to Brock University and its Teacher College program; the Halton Board of Education; the Burlington Public Library Branch; The Centennial Pool, the three gyms, and changing rooms; and a business incubator organization.
  3. The Halton Board of Education will occupy the ground floor, covering half of the shop area, all the arts area, and the classrooms on the west side of the Library, from the front to the back.
  4. Brock will occupy all the classrooms on the second floor, with an option to take over the classrooms on either side of the main staircase at the front of the school.
  5. The area reserved for the community is 25% of the total space and is the classrooms on the east side of the Library running towards the back of the building.
  6. After the renovations are complete, an expanded lobby will be at the front of the building. It will be a two-storey open space with a skylight. This location will have a staircase to the second floor to access Brock University, plus elevators. The lobby will serve as a passageway to the major tenets.  
  7. From the main lobby, a central corridor will run from the front of the school to the back of the building. It runs through the former library location and the classrooms in the back. 
  8. A secondary entrance at the back of the building will allow people who park at the back of the school a way into the building.
  9. Finally, there is asbestos in the building, and I think they are removing everything to the beams and brick walls. It will be curious if anything from the past is left intact.

While I am sad that much of what I love about the school will lost and a lot of the space will be devoted to organizations not servicing the local community, the building will survive. The land could have easily gone to condos.


2023 – New Community Hub

Bateman Front Entrance (Summer 2022)

Happy New Year – 2023

Jan 12, 2023 – I would like to wish everyone a happy new year. As we enter 2023, there is some good news for Lord Elgin/Robert Bateman. In November 2022, the City of Burlington approved the purchase for $29.6 million (essentially) and also approved a proposed budget of $72 million for redevelopment costs for phase one.

The school has been incorporated into the City’s 25-year plan for economic development. Elgin/Bateman will become a community hub for different community services, including:

  • The Gary Allan Learning Centre (operated HDSB)
  • Teachers’ Education and Applied Disabilities Studies Program (Brock University)
  • The Appleby Branch Library (BPL)
  • TechPlace (operated by the Burlington Economic Development)

In addition, the City will continue to operate Centennial Pool and maintain access to the triple gym facilities. There will also be community rooms created for the general public.

Elgin was built in 1969, with the official opening occurring in Sept 1970. In 1973, the Centennial Pool was added. With the merger of General Brock and Lord Elgin in 2003, there was a significant expansion in the area behind the Shop and Arts area of the original school. As a result, over 212,000 square feet of space are available for future development.

The current plan calls for redevelopment to occur over several phases. In phase one, several existing services will be relocated to the school. There will also be modifications to the building to make these services available and to make the school more functional for future use, including:

  • A new front entrance
  • Mew open “collaborative” corridors and seating that will connect the front and the rear of the school
  • A new central staircase and elevator
  • New meeting rooms.

The City is looking for feedback on the future use of the school in 2023, and there is criticism over both the purchase price of $29 million dollars and the $72 million redevelopment costs of phase one, so the coming year should be interesting.

So, the saving of Elgin/Bateman is a good news/bad news story. The good news is the building is being saved and will be open for alumni to visit in the future. The bad news is the building and its interior will look vastly different than what you experienced as a student. On the whole, I am fairly positive about this development. The change was always going to happen, and this is likely the best one could reasonably hope for. I have attached some architectural drawings of what the school might look like once the renovations are finished. If you are looking for a real-life example of what Elgin/Bateman will look like, visit Queen Elizabeth Park Community Centre in Oakville. It’s Elgin’s sister school, built in 1971 by the same architects.


Future layout for the new Community Hub

New Front Entrance

View of the new front entrance and exterior of the Public Library

New Front Lobby and Central Corridor

New Staircase and elevators


Birth of Elizabeth Gardens

Oct 25, 2022 – By the early 1950s, developers were looking for places to house all the returning veterans and their expanding families. The Ford Plant was built in 1953, and developers saw a golden opportunity. Urban legend states that Oakville wanted no part of this influx of workers and forced developers to look westward. By 1954, developers were looking at Nelson Township, and the Elizabeth Gardens project was born. On June 2nd, 1956, the Developer had its grand opening in the middle of farmland and forests.

No photo description available.
Model of the future EG Community c.1956


New Community Centre

Oct 23, 2022 – Work on the Skating Rink Facility located in Skyway Park has begun. The park is on Kenwood Avenue between Skyway Plaza and St. Elizabeth Anglican Church.

To my surprise, the City is not just renovating the existing building but is relocating and expanding the structure. This new facility will cover most of the middle section of the park and offer several new services. Bad on me for not reading the fine print and appreciating that the new structure will eliminate much of the current green space.

The positive point of the development is the City’s ability to offer many more services in a newly enhanced facility. The negative aspect is the loss of so much green space. While the baseball diamond will be preserved and the south end of the site will be opened up with the elimination of the old skating rink building, it is nevertheless a loss of open space.

I have many memories of playing touch football in this park. You really had room to run and burn energy. You had no worries about throwing a frisbee with your dog and running out of space.

Anyways, it’s all part of the evolution of the neighbourhood that will make the place more attractive to new families.



Oct 22, 2022 – On Sept 30th, the City of Burlington was supposed to buy Lord Elgin/Robert Bateman’s building and land. However, there has been no news from the City. The purchase price is rumoured to be around $50 million, and there is some hostility from the community and the press to this price. The sale will likely be announced after the municipal elections on Oct 24th. Over the summer, the school board removed everything belonging to them and cleaned up things. The school now sits empty, waiting for its next owners. The current plan is for Brock University to take over the second floor of the school for its adult education program, moving its operations from Hamilton. While it is sad to see the school end as a high school, at least the building will continue to stand and serve as a reminder that you were once here. This will be the first of several posts showing the current condition of the school from the outside. I will explain what you see since a lot has changed from the LEHS days.

May be an image of outdoors and brick wall

Current Appearance of the Front Entrance


Rear of Bateman (Oct 15th, 2022)

Oct 15, 2022 – Here is a video of the back of the school (sorry for the blasting car radio). In the future, this area will likely change a lot. With all the services that are planned to be located at the school, I would expect some sort of new rear entrance to the building. Also, while there is a lot of talk about keeping Track and the green space, I don’t see where all the cars will park if you have several different services in the school: adult education, library, Board of Education, other community services etc. Queen Elizabeth Park High School in Oakville was the sister school of Lord Elgin and was built in 1972. After it was converted into a community hub, the renovations were significant and neatly merged with the old school structure. So, while the school looks similar to the past, it is still very different. I would expect the same thing to happen with Elgin/Bateman.

Short video clip of the rear of the school on Oct 15th, 2022


Elizabeth Gardens C. 1960

Aug 17, 2022 – Here is a labelled version of the 1960 aerial photo. The details are foggy, given the source photo was taken from 50,000 feet.

North-South Streets are as follows:

News Street – top of the photo

Spruce Ave – upper middle

Lakeshore Rd – bottom of the photo

As a side note, Lakeshore was initially called the King’s Highway and was built in 1922. Like the 403, it opened truck and car traffic between Toronto and Hamilton. Representing the halfway point, this is why the Pig and Whistle were located here, as well as other traveller-oriented businesses opened up along the lake in future Elizabeth Gardens.

East-West Roads:

Burloak represented the eastern boundary of the community. Burloak was originally called Townline, but the name changed when Bronte merged with Oakville. Burloak follows a native trail that ran from the lake to Highway 5 (Dundas Road) where it joins other trails that ran through Hamilton and down to Niagara on the Lake and onwards to the former British colonies.

Hampton Heath marked the community’s western border until the Skyway Plaza was built in the 1961-62 period.

Above the future location of the Skyway Plaza was the Waste Water Plant. Proposed in 1953-54, Oakville had strong objects to it for fears that it would pollute their water intake pipe, which supplies their drinking water. The wastewater facility was built expressly to serve the Elizabeth Gardens community.

To the northwest is the future site of the St. Elizabeth Anglican Church.

The Elizabeth Gardens Public School was at the original community’s geographical heart.

I hope that makes the photo a little clearer to read.

May be an image of map and text that says 'New St Shell Woods Lorem lpsum Burloak/Townline Spruce Ave Mr Best Place Skyview GolfCourse Golf EGPS St. Elizabeth Church P”gandhis Pig and Whistle Waste Water Plant Lorem lpsum Skyway Plaza Ted's Hampton Heath'
Aerial View of Elizabeth Gardens c.1960


RBHS Update

Aug 2, 2022 – I was in the community preparing for the Elizabeth Gardens Art Collective’s Art Walk on Saturday, August 27th. Afterwards, I passed by the school to see what was happening. The Board is currently cleaning out the school. The City’s tentative schedule is to take control of the property in September, with Brock University starting its renovations in October 2022. However, the transfer of ownership has still not been finalized, but it is more likely than not that Elgin will become a community centre, with Brock and the Board using portions of the school. I think the model will be the Queen Elizabeth Park Community Centre in Oakville. The QE Park High School is the 1972 sister school of Lord Elgin. Here are some of the photos from Saturday. Cheers.

Front Entrance

Front Entrance Lobby

Cafe, looking toward the stage

Teacher Lunchroom

Rear Entrance Hallway, exit to former smoker’s corner


Past Snowstorms

Jan 28, 2022 – Our recent blast of snow on January 17 reminded me of the Blizzard of 1978 that started on January 26.

I remember finally getting to school after fighting the strong winds and super cold temperatures. I was frozen to the bone and immediately went to the cafe to find something warm.

I was in a bit of a fix because they only had hot chocolate or coffee (both of which I hated passionately). I kept asking the staff if there was anything else, and they just looked at me like I was an idiot (which I was). So, I just stood there looking at the coffee maker that sat on a cart between the two doors.

As I stood there, Mr. Hughs came up behind me and asked what was happening. I told him my problem, and he said, “Don’t worry about that.” He then went up to the coffee maker, performed the signs of the cross, and spoke the trinitarian formula. Mr. Hughs then turned to me and said drinking was now acceptable.

The kitchen staff and a few students who were now waiting to pay for their food laughed at this performance.

As I poured a cup of coffee, still looking at it like it was poison, a senior student told me to put in lots of sugar and cream to make it taste better.

Thus, my addiction to coffee started on that frigid Thursday morning. Funny what memories we keep.

May be a black-and-white image of snow and brick wall
Front Entrance of Lord Elgin on Jan 26, 1978