Strathcona Elementary was first established in 1873. It was named for Donald Alexander Smith, first Baron of Strathcona (1820-1914), a Scottish-Canadian financier and politician.
Strathcona students originally went to Hastings Mill School. After the fire of 13 June 1886, the families scattered. A new school called East or Oppenheimer Street opened on 26 January 1887 at 522 Oppenheimer Street (now East Cordova Street.) It moved in March 1891 to Pender and Jackson and was called the East End School. The school was renamed Strathcona in 1900.
Lord Strathcona is located in the oldest residential district in Vancouver and was nicknamed the “League of Nations” school in the 1930s. Architecture accounts for a good deal of Strathcona's charm and some of Vancouver's oldest and most unique buildings. January 2018 saw the conclusion of a three year multistage seismic project at Stathcona. The school is now fully occupying the Junior Building, Senior Building, cafeteria, and auditorium.