College of the Rockies honours founder

by Keith Powell
College of the Rockies’ new trades building will be named Patterson Hall, in honour of James Patterson, whose vision for trades training and post-secondary education in the East Kootenays led to the opening of College of the Rockies more than 40 years ago.

College of the Rockies’ new trades building will be named Patterson Hall, in honour of James Patterson, whose vision for trades training and post-secondary education in the East Kootenays led to the opening of College of the Rockies more than 40 years ago. — Photo courtesy Chandos Construction Ltd.

College of the Rockies’ new trades training facility will be named in honour of College founder – James Patterson – and his legacy of trades training and post-secondary education in the region.

Patterson was a local miner and school board member, whose vision for a vocational school in the East Kootenays led to the opening of College of the Rockies more than 40 years ago.

His phone call to a government official in 1971 started the ball rolling on what would become East Kootenay Community College and, eventually, College of the Rockies. The College opened its doors to students in October 1975, with Patterson sitting as Chair of the Board of Governors.

Thanks to the hard work and vision of Patterson and others, College of the Rockies now delivers post-secondary education to more than 10,000 learners per year. With a main Campus in Cranbrook and five regional campuses in Golden, Invermere, Fernie, Kimberley and Creston, students from across the region can gain the skills they need for employment while staying in their local communities.

Patterson Hall will house the Industrial Mechanic (Millwright) and Electrical programs and provide work space for interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. The state-of-the-art new building includes an electrical concepts lab, where students will use computer technology to learn about basic concepts in a “virtual lab”. It will also feature a two-story mock house where students can practice hands-on learning.

James Patterson.

James Patterson. — Photo courtesy College of the Rockies

"James Patterson was instrumental in the creation of our College,” says College President and CEO David Walls. “His initial dream was to have apprenticeship training available for young people throughout the region. Though the College has evolved to offer a full range of academic and trades programs, it is fitting to have the new trades building bear his name.”

Patterson passed away in 1999, but his three daughters continue to live in the area that he worked so hard to support.

"My sisters Bev, Heather and I know that our mother would have been so proud and Dad would feel humbled and appreciative,” says Patterson’s daughter, Nancy Eckstein. “More importantly, Dad would be so thankful to the many Board members, faculty, support staff and students who have made College of the Rockies what it is today. The College’s mission statement is to transform lives and enrich communities through the power of education. We believe that exemplifies Dad’s original vision.”

Staff and students were involved in the naming of the trades building. Through a College-wide ‘Name the Building’ contest, University Studies student Matthew Lavery provided the winning entry.

Funding for the trades building was provided by the Province of B.C., the Government of Canada, Teck, Columbia Basin Trust and College of the Rockies.

A grand opening of Patterson Hall will take place in August.

Read more about James Patterson’s role in establishing College of the Rockies by following the Read the History of College of the Rockies link on cotr.ca/aboutus

About College of the Rockies

For more than 40 years, College of the Rockies has provided post-secondary education that meets the needs and aspirations of the people, industry and businesses of our region. Each year, we deliver instruction to approximately 10,000 learners, in a full range of programs, including: skilled trades, university studies, adult upgrading, early childhood education, health and human services, business, office administration, tourism and recreation, fire services, continuing education and general community interest. Though our breadth of programs is wide, we strive to deliver the most personal student experience possible. Through smaller class sizes, highly-personalized instruction and dedicated support services, our students are primed to succeed in the job market, or in the next stage of their academic journey.

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