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Do you have a special memory or memorabilia to share from either Philip Sheffield High (PSHS) or Elementary School? If so, The Reach, who is partnering with some of those alumni, Abbotsford Virtual School and UFV would love to hear from you. These history advocates have joined forces to collect and record the personal memories of students and collect memorabilia in preparation for developing an online history and exhibition of the school.


Image credit: The Reach P2419 – Students at work in the Philip Sheffield High School metal shop: Alan Inglis, unidentified, Thor Kleiv and Peter Dempster. This and other PSHS and Philip Sheffield Elementary

When Philip Sheffield closed in 2007, the closing ceremony was attended by hundreds of former high school and elementary school students and teachers who shared fond memories of their time there. “Philip Sheffield High School was the cutting edge of education when it opened in 1936,” says Kris Foulds, The Reach Curator of Historical Collections, “and most of Abbotsford’s civic leaders attended PSHS.”


The individual school districts of Abbotsford, Sumas and Matsqui had just become the first amalgamated school district in the province of BC. Philip Sheffield was hired to administer the merger and pave the way for future development, improvements to school facilities and reorganization of curriculum and teaching staffs. At the same time, Sheffield had taken on improvements to the existing Sumas – Abbotsford Consolidated High School: the construction of a new community auditorium and state of the art trades facility funded jointly by the Province and the community. Built adjacent to the high school, the 800 seat auditorium provided a venue for local community events and the trades wing housed manual training and home economics rooms.

Sheffield did not live to see the completion of his vision for Abbotsford education but when the auditorium was dedicated in December 1936, the school was renamed the Philip Sheffield Memorial High School in the devoted board administrator’s honour. It was replaced by Abbotsford Senior Secondary in 1955 and shifted its mandate to the education of elementary students in conjunction with Abbotsford Elementary, which housed primary grades.

Abbotsford Elementary closed in 2005 but the building housed a new educational direction, the Abbotsford Virtual School. Once bursting at the seams with students: two to a desk and attending class in storage areas at times, declining inner-city enrollment forced the School District to close Philip Sheffield in 2007.

To share your memories or memorabilia from either PSHS or Philip Sheffield Elementary, please contact

Kris Foulds: or 604-864-8087 ext 122.