Castlegar entourage poses in the foyer of Government House

Field trip from Castlegar to the Capital

Field trip to the Capital made learning personal for Castlegar students

Submitted by Susan McLean, Provincial Capital Commission

A field trip to B.C.’s Capital in May brought classroom learning to life for 18 students from Castlegar’s Stanley Humphries Secondary School.

“The trip was a great fit with the curriculum we have been studying,” says teacher Fiona Martin. Prior to travelling to Victoria, the Grade 11 class had been delving into government and the consequences of war. To drive the learning points home, the trip itinerary included tours of the Parliament Buildings, Government House and CFB Esquimalt naval base.

Another highlight for the group was a workshop at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre and a visit to the Vancouver Maritime Museum.

Students also enjoyed visiting the Royal BC Museum to learn more about the province’s early fur trade and the history of Aboriginal people from pre-European contact through to present-day movement towards self-government.

Amid security preparations for the arrival of the Duke of York, Prince Andrew, to Government House, the students toured the official residence of B.C.’s Lieutenant Governor and the ceremonial home of all British Columbians taking in both the history of the building and the role of the Queen’s representative as well as the splendor of the architecture and décor.

For many of the students, this was their first trip to Victoria and they were enthralled with old town’s architecture and the picturesque Inner Harbor causeway flanked by yachts, fishing boats, the Empress Hotel and the majestic Parliament Buildings – the seat of government for the province.

Climbing the wide granite staircase beneath the copper-topped domes of the provincial legislative buildings, the students were awed by the architectural details inside. Towering marble columns, gilt plasterwork, stained glass windows, colourful mosaics and the circular rotunda reaching high into the dome above captivated the group.

But it was seeing slices of B.C.’s history first hand at the provincial museum and walking the halls of the Legislature that resonated strongest with the students.

“It’s a privilege to be here,” said 16-year-old Craig Pilla. “It’s important to learn the province’s history and there is so much history here in Victoria. It’s a beautiful Capital and a strong backbone for B.C.”

A trip highlight for Craig (in photo at right) was talking to a child survivor of the Holocaust. “It was really insightful and I learned how much it changed people’s lives.” Becoming involved in the democratic process and helping reshape the world for the better were also lessons learned during the visit. “It’s important that people have a say.”

Classmate Patrick Zubick (left) agrees. Touring the Parliament Buildings reaffirmed his belief that people need to be informed and involved. “I’ve always been a strong proponent of democracy and in the importance of voting or don’t complain.”

Museums and discovering relevance in history and heritage topped student Israel Millar’s (centre) list of trip successes, along with personalizing government and the political process. “I am lucky to be here,” she said from the steps of the Legislature. “I feel more connected to the capital, I know more about the province and I am more likely to vote.

“This trip made it personal for me,” she said. “It reinforced the concept that if I was concerned about some issue, I could contact the elected representatives and help make changes.”

That’s music to her teacher’s ears. Martin is keen on democratic engagement. In fact, she heard about the Provincial Capital Commission’s Capital for Kids travel funding program while attending an intensive four-day workshop in Victoria with the BC Teachers’ Institute on Parliamentary Democracy.

The PCC’s funding assistance allowed her to share her passion with her students.  “A trip to Victoria is not feasible for us without the Capital for Kids funding,” she said. Experiencing the Capital first hand is education at its finest, she noted. “Students get to see the real-life workings of a Capital as well as learn about the history of the province.

“They can read about it all they want, but seeing it in person brings it home. Everything we’ve been studying was there. It’s a valuable piece to their education.”

For more information on the Provincial Capital Commission and the Capital for Kids program, visit

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