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Secondary Schools: N to Z


North Toronto Collegiate Institute (NTC-SS)

Location: 17 Broadway Avenue Toronto, Ontario  M4P 1R2 (east of Yonge Street; north of Eglinton Avenue). Former address (1971 to 2010) was 70 Roehampton Avenue.

WW2 Memorial at North Toronto Collegiate Institute. © Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto Branch

Opened: 1910

Alternate or former names: North Toronto High School

Pre-1998 municipality: City of Toronto

Ward during WWI: Ward 2

Ward during WWII: Ward 9

Type of school: Secondary

1910 Autumn: Secondary schooling began in North Toronto when George H. Reed (for 20 years the principal of Markham High School) gathered five students on the second floor of the old Town Hall (northwest corner of Yonge Street and Montgomery Avenue).
1911 Apr: Thirty pupils enrolled; second teacher hired.
1911 Autumn: School occupied the entire top floor of the old Town Hall and had four teachers.
1912 May: School board bought three acres of farmland (not far from the Town Hall and fronting on Broadway Avenue) owned by Messrs. Maguire, Rennie and McKinley. The two-storey, five-room high school was built “as far to the south on these properties as possible.” This made room for a large playing field. Architectural style was “Collegiate Gothic.”
1912 Dec 2: Mr. Reed to be principal. Official opening delayed two days by bad weather. Students couldn’t cross muddy Yonge Street from the old Town Hall until several months later.
1912 Dec. 15: The school became part of the Toronto school system with the annexation of the town of North Toronto to Toronto.
1914-1915: Four more classrooms were added to the original building.
1919: Twelve teachers; more than 200 students.
1921: Became North Toronto Collegiate Institute. Building was doubled in size with a two-storey addition south of the original buildings; 10 more classrooms and related facilities, a boys’ and a girls’ entrances from Roehampton Avenue; alterations to the earlier buildings. Further additions in the 1920s included a third floor.
1971: The formal address was changed from 17 Broadway Avenue to 70 Roehampton Avenue, probably because of easy access to the major pedestrian routes at Yonge and Eglinton.
2007 November: Ground is broken for a new school
2010 September: The school year starts in the new building and the address changes back to 17 Broadway.

Published history:
Centennial story: the Board of Education for the city of Toronto, 1850–1950, ed. H. M. Cochrane (Toronto, 1950), p.154.
Filey, Mike. “The Brief Story of George H. Reed, the Founder of NTCI” in North Toronto C.I. FoundatioNews, Spring 2000, p.3. (available at: http://ntci.on.ca/alumni/FN-sp2000a.pdf)

Web sites:

Memorials transcribed:
NTC-SS-a: (WWI) Decorated bronze plaque with NTCI insignia: 1914 The Great War 1919 / In honour of the pupils / of North Toronto Collegiate / Institute who served in the / the Great War that freedom and / the Empire might endure. These made the supreme sacrifice: Two columns. First names followed by surnames. These gave their willing service. Three columns. First names followed by surnames.
At the bottom: Erected in grateful remembrance by the teachers and / students of the North Toronto Collegiate Institute.

NTC-SS-b: (WWII) A-K (part) Framed, under glass “Roll of Honour, 1939-1945” with NTCI insignia in the centre. Nine columns. Surnames followed by first names.  Columns iv, v, and vi have headings “Killed in Action.” First names followed by surnames. At the top of column v is the heading “Missing.” First names followed by surnames.

NTC-SS-c: (WWII) K (part)-W Framed, under glass “Roll of Honour, 1939-1945” with NTCI insignia in the centre. Nine columns. Surnames followed by first names. At the top of column v is the heading “Teachers on Active Service.” Initials followed by surnames. Column v also has heading “Killed in Action.” First name followed by surname (one name only). NOTE: Author Farley Mowat appears on this list.

Riverdale Collegiate Institute (RCI-SS)

Riverdale Collegiate Institute, Toronto, May 2010. © Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto Branch

1094 Gerrard Street East, Toronto, Ontario  M4M 2A1 (north side of Gerrard, between Jones Avenue and Leslie Street)

Opened: 1907

Alternate or former names: Riverdale High School

Pre-1998 municipality: City of Toronto

Ward during WWI: Ward 2

Ward during WWII: Ward 1

Type of school: Secondary

1907: Riverdale Business Men’s Association encouraged the Toronto Board of Education to build a school on Gerrard Street. Riverdale High School opened with four teachers. Original building had principal’s office, library, four classrooms and two science rooms. By second and third years, classes had to be held in the cloakrooms.

1910: first addition completed.

1914: name changed to Riverdale Collegiate Institute.

Further additions were added in 1914, 1922, and 1924, following the architect’s original plan for the expansion of the school.

Published history: Centennial story: the Board of Education for the City of Toronto, 1850–1950, ed. H. M. Cochrane (Toronto, 1950), p.152.

Web sites:

War memorials and old school façade preserved in the atrium of Riverdale Collegiate Institute. © Ontario Genealogical Society, Toronto Branch

Memorials transcribed:
RCI-SS-a: (WWI) Bronze decorative plaque: To the memory of / the boys of this / school who gave / their lives in the / Great War 1914–1918. Two columns. Column i – first names followed by surnames. Column ii – place of death.

RCI-SS-b: (WWII) Bronze plaque: 1939 (school insignia) 1945 / There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old / but, dying, has made us rarer gifts then gold. Three columns. First names followed by surnames (A-L).

RCI-SS-c: (WWII) Bronze plaque: 1939 (school insignia) 1945 / There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old / but, dying, has made us rarer gifts then gold. Three columns. First names followed by surnames (M-Y).

RCI-SS-d: (WWII) Framed under glass. Individual black and white photos arranged in seven columns. List of names (A-L) under each column.

RCI-SS-e: (WWII) Framed under glass. Individual black and white photos arranged in seven columns. List of names (M-Y) under each column.

NOTE: Riverdale Collegiate Institute’s five memorials list only those who died.  They are displayed in the new atrium, which was added in the 1990s and incorporates the original school’s façade.

Runnymede Collegiate Institute (RUN-SS)

Location: 569 Jane Street, Toronto (York) Ontario M6S 4A3 (east side of Jane Street; south of St. Clair Avenue West)

Opened: 1927

Bronze plaque commemoration the 1927 York Twp. School Board. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Bronze plaque commemoration the 1927 York Twp. School Board. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Alternate or former names: Runnymede High School

Pre-1998 municipality: City of York

Type of School: Secondary

In 1838, John Scarlett, owner of one of the mills along the Humber River, and of a tract of land north of Bloor Street West and west of Keele Street, built a large wooden house near the western corner of his property—roughly Keele Street and Dundas Street West. The north-south road leading to his house was Elizabeth Street, later renamed Runnymede Road. He called his house “Runnymede” after the meadow in England where King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215. Modern Runnymede is north of Bloor Street West, between Jane Street on the west; Runnymede Road on the east; Dundas Street West on the north. Early development was slow, but steady, compared to neighbouring Lambton, as there was no main industry such as the mills Lambton had. Establishing area elementary schools did not seem essential until the turn of the century.

1924 Sept 24: Continuation Class established at Vaughan Road Public School (School Section No. 15) under Miss Clementine Magee. In 1925, the township advanced $5,000 for a frame structure to be built at the rear of the school. Miss Magee then became principal to a staff of three teachers and approximately 100 students.

1926 Feb 5: York Township High School Board appointed. Inaugural meeting February 27. Before 1926, York Township high school students attended Weston High and Vocational School and Toronto’s nearest collegiate institutes.

1927 Sept 6: Runnymede High School built on Jane Street, north of St. John’s Road, on land that had belonged to John Scarlett, taking the name from his estate. Classes began with 251 students and 10 teachers—six male; four female—under Principal Bruce W. Clark. Four of the teachers had their M.A.s—the requisite number for a collegiate institute offering Grade 13. (NOTE: In Canada, beginning in 1871, “collegiate institute” referred to a school offering courses for university-bound students. Runnymede Collegiate was and is often referred to as Runnymede High School interchangeably, as far as our research can determine. J.C. Boylen’s book cited below, states that Runnymede was designated a collegiate institute in 1928. Appendix C “School Construction in York Township” first uses the name Runnymede Collegiate Institute in 1930.)

1927 Nov 11: Official opening in the evening. The ceremonies were part of celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee of Canadian Confederation. Two school websites list as the architect Charles Wellington Smith, who lived in one of the cottages on the west side of Jane, south of Dundas, but although Smith designed York Memorial Collegiate Institute (built 1929) the Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950 credits Henry John Burden as architect of Runnymede High School. J.C. Boylen also records the architects as Burden and Gouinlock. Eight classrooms; three science labs over the auditorium and opposite the second-floor library; a cafeteria (facing Jane Street) and locker area on three floors. Stained glass windows in the auditorium; glass doors on library shelves. Below the auditorium was the gymnasium with an indoor track and viewing gallery. Offices were inside the main entrance, opposite the auditorium. (See website links below for further details of the school’s plan.) Principal Clark, hired from Humberside, took the job on condition that he have a free hand running the school on an “honour system.” He loved football and gave students Friday afternoons off in the fall to attend the senior games—township games at Oakwood Stadium; playoffs at Crang Stadium on St. Clair Avenue West. There are several suggestions for the school’s choice of red and white colours: from Scarlett’s name; from the flag of England’s patron saint—St George; from the school’s opening just two months after the Canada’s Diamond Jubilee—July 1, 1927; red and white were approved as Canada’s official colours in the proclamation of her coat of arms in 1921. Students’ red and white jackets led to the name “Redmen” in the 1930s—the name perhaps coined by newspaper reporters. (Other names were Crimson Bombers, as the early football jerseys were more crimson than red; Runnymede Ironmen; the Jane Street Boys; the Scarlett Rockets; the Junction Boys.) During the Depression, the football players’ sweaters were red only—a solid colour was cheaper to produce than two colours. In time, an Indian head logo was adopted to go with the name. The Redmen name and logo were retired in 1994 “out of respect for the native people of Canada.” Replaced by Runnymede Ravens. Continuing the Runnymede theme, the school’s yearbook was named Magna Charta.

1928: Addition of four classrooms and a (second) gymnasium for girls. Teacher Donald Graham introduced lacrosse. Of 278 male students, 250 played with and owned sticks by 1931.

1928: School designated a collegiate institute—Runnymede Collegiate Institute—though the name Runnymede High School continues to be used.

1930: Eight classrooms added.

1939-1945: World War II brought Emergency Measures and Air Raid Protection drills during which wardens checked for blackness; illumination inside the school came from green lights. Some male teachers left for the military or civilian war work.

1957/1958: Addition of swimming pool, auditorium, more classrooms, and offices. The field and track were diminished.

1966: Addition of large gymnasium, 16 classrooms, and a field to the south. In June, Grade 13 students wrote their Departmental Exams in the unfinished gym.

Thank-you card to students at Runnymede Collegiate, Toronto, from Canadian troops in Afganistan during "Operation Athena" 2003–2004. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

Thank-you card to students at Runnymede Collegiate, Toronto, from Canadian troops in Afganistan during “Operation Athena” 2003–2004. ©Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society

1972: The Royal Canadian Legion Maple Leaf Branch #266 began awarding an annual scholarship. List of recipients up to 2002 displayed in main hall.

2002 May: School’s 75th anniversary. Wall of Fame instituted. At Commencement each year, a graduate who has had success in any field is honoured with a photograph and brief description of notable achievements.

2004 Jan 24: Colonel M.D. Hodgson writes from Kabul, Afghanistan, to thank students for letters and cards sent as part of Canadian government’s ongoing “Write to the Troops” campaign. Included is a large illustrated thank you card with signatures and messages from soldiers of “Operation Athena August 2003-February 2004.”

2013: Building now comprises 30 classrooms, a swimming pool, two gyms, computer labs, a drama studio, and a large cafeteria.

Published histories:
Boylen, J.C. York Township: an Historical Summary 1850—1954. [Toronto]: The Municipal Corporation of the Township of York and The Board of Education of the Township of York, 1954. 131 p.: ill. Appendix B: Collegiate Institute Boards; Public School Boards. Appendix C: School Construction in York Township.

Runnymede Collegiate Institute celebrates 75 Years of History: 1927-2002. [Toronto : The Collegiate Institute, 2002.] 87 p.: ill., ports.

Thomas, Wilbert G. The Legacy of York: a Survey of the Early Development of the Communities of York. (York, Ont. : Historical Committee of the City of York, c1992] 96 p. : ill.

/ Includes photos of original school; additions; present school
Detailed descriptions of the school from 1927 to the present: list of principals, vice principals, and the first teaching staff. Under “Redmen,” sports teams of the 1920s to 1940s are listed in detail, with players’ names, championships, etc.

Memorials transcribed:
RUN-SS-a: (WWII and Korea): Ship’s bell on polished plinth. “HMCS Runnymede 1944.” On a bronze plate under the bell “In Memoriam.” Two columns (33 names in each column). At the end of col ii: Currie, Alistair (Korea). (The H.M.C.S. Runnymede, a World War II, 300-foot long river class frigate of the Royal Canadian Navy, was named for Runnymede—the area, or the collegiate itself—opinions vary. Commissioned on June 14, 1944. Lieutenant R.C. Chenowith commanded a crew of eight officers and 125 men. The ship served as a convoy escort and U-boat hunter until August 9, 1945.)

RUN-SS-b: (WWII) Plaque: blue background; pewter-coloured inscription. (Ontario coat of arms) / Corporal Frederick George Topham. V.C. / 1917-1974 / Born in Toronto, Topham was educated here before working in / the mines at Kirkland Lake. He enlisted on August 3, 1942, / and served at home and abroad as a medical orderly. On March / 24, 1945, while serving with the 1st Canadian Parachute Bat- / talion, he defied heavy enemy fire to treat casualties sustained / in a parachute drop east of the Rhine, near Wesel. Rejecting / treatment for his own severe face wound, he continued to / rescue the injured for six hours. While returning to his com- / pany, he saved three occupants of a burning carrier which / was in danger of exploding. For these exceptional deeds, / Topham was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest decor / ation for valour in the British Commonwealth. / Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, Ministry of Culture and Recreation. (This plaque is outside the school, on the east side of Jane Street, just south of Dundas Street West. See: King George School on this website for more about Frederick Topham, including the complete wording of his Victoria Cross citation.)

RUN-SS-c: Framed photograph of H.M.C.S. Runnymede. Inset is a plaque held by a naval lieutenant. Inscription: This tablet is here placed by the / Corporation of the Township of York on / behalf of its citizens, in grateful tribute / to the self-sacrifice and devotion of all / who serve on His Majesty’s Canadian Ship / RUNNYMEDE / It is our humble prayer that God may go / with this ship and her gallant crew as / she sails the seas in defence of right / and freedom / June 17, 1944. At the bottom of the photograph: Lieutenant John E. Henderson holds a dedication plaque for the Canadian ship the Runnymede / which was named after Runnymede Collegiate Institute. (Wilbert G. Thomas, cited above, says the plaque commemorating H.M.C.S. Runnymede’s commission was on display in the City of York’s offices in 1992.)

York Memorial Collegiate Institute (YMC-SS)

Doors are up two flights of steps, under elaborately carved archway, with bay window and crenalated turrets above.

Entrance to York Memorial Collegiate Institute, Toronto. ©Toronto Branch OGS

Location: 2690 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto, Ontario M6M 1T9 (north side of Eglinton Avenue West; west of Keele Street)

Opened: 1929

Alternate or former names: “Memo” (informal)

Pre-1998 municipality: York

Type of school: Secondary

School motto: Macte Nova Virtute (Go forth with new strength). School teams are the Mustangs; school colours are red and gold. Previously, Mount Dennis students mainly went to Weston High and Vocational School (later Weston Collegiate Institute). The whole school is a memorial to the York citizens who died in the Great War. Built of Don Valley brick and smooth faded stone. The towers on either side of the main entrance have a military appearance. The terraced steps lead to a broad landing, followed by 11 steps symbolizing the 11th hour; the 11th day; the11th month when peace was declared after World War I. Four solid oak and plate-glass entrance doors. The school name is carved in script over the main entrance. Other carved symbols include torches of remembrance, shields of honour, grapes, acorns, oak leaves, pine cones, and ferns. There are four World War II memorials to the dead in the main hall: two oak panels of names; two framed sets of individual photos. There is also a memorial to a student who died while still attending the school, and a photo and copy of the citation of a former York Memorial student awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. (See under “Memorials transcribed” below.) Names of the dead are read at Remembrance Day services. Inside the auditorium are stained-glass windows, including one of the World War I battle of Ypres; the other of the death of Wolfe in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, 1759. The inscription reads “For God and country.”
1926: York High School Board formed. (Vaughan Road Collegiate built 1926; Runnymede Collegiate built 1927.)
1929: The Township of York decided to build an institution of higher learning in memory of youth killed in the First World War. Architect: Charles Wellington Smith (1877-1973) whose family had lived in the Township (later the Borough) of York since 1872. From 1921 until 1959, Smith designed four secondary and 11 public schools for York Township. In 1936, he designed Valley Halla, a 23-room private home for Dr. Robert Jackson, developer of an early health cereal, Dr. Jackson’s Roman Health Meal. The house still stands in the Rouge Valley (near the Metro Zoo) on lands owned by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). Sometimes used for films, such as HBO’s Grey Gardens and for private functions.

Framed shadow box with architect's master key and photo of his house at 602 Jane St.

Tribute to C.W. Smith, long-time resident of York and architect of York Memorial Collegiate institute, Toronto.

1929 Feb 23: Building began on a site of nine and one half acres at Eglinton Avenue West and Trethewey Drive, purchased from the estate of W.G. Trethewey.
1929 May 6: Sir William Mulock (at the time Chief Justice of Ontario and Chancellor of the University of Toronto) laid the cornerstone. The Royal Canadian Legion branches of Mount Dennis and Silverthorn helped prepare records of the York enlistments and dead of the Great War to place in the cornerstone. (Not clear if copies of these records exist.)
1929 Sept: School completed and occupied.
1930 Jan 30: Sir William Mulock officially opened and dedicated the building. Fifteen classrooms, three science labs, an auditorium, cafeteria, two gymnasia, a swimming pool with underwater lighting, and administrative offices. Twelve teachers; 303 students. The first principal, John Wesley Ansley, served until 1949.
1935: High enrolments in York’s three collegiate institutes forced the introduction of a “stagger system.”
1936: The Collegiate Institute Board and the Public School Board united to form the York Township Board of Education. The 11 members held their first meeting in York Memorial Collegiate Institute.
1949 Feb 27: Second World War memorial dedicated.
1950: The York Board of Education moved its administrative offices to leased premises at 365 Weston Road, freeing space for school use.
1954: Board office buildings, adjoining the school, and near the township offices, were completed. The area of Eglinton Avenue West and Keele Street thus became the administrative centre of York Township.
1999: Advanced Placement courses, offering a wide range of classes in music, drama, and visual arts, began.
2014 May 23-24: 85th anniversary celebrations.

Published history:
Thomas, Wilbert G. The Legacy of York: (a survey of the early development of the communities of York.) York, Ont. : Historical Committee of the City of York, c1992. 96 p. See: Mount Dennis Community pp. 45-59.
Boylen, J.C. York Township: An historical summary. Municipal Corporation of the Township of York and the Board of Education of the Township of the Township of York, 1954.

Web sites: http://schoolweb.tdsb.on.ca/yorkmemorial/AboutUs/OurHeritage.aspx (A gallery of photos includes the main hall war memorials and murals, and the stained-glass windows in the auditorium.)

Memorials transcribed:
YMC-SS-a: (WWII) oak panel designed by Thoreau Macdonald. In Memoriam / 1939 – 1945. Two columns. Given names followed by surnames (James Arthur to David McIntyre). No key.
YMC-SS-b: (WWII) oak panel designed by Thoreau Macdonald. In Memoriam / 1939 – 1945. Two columns. Given names followed by surnames (Douglas McLean to John Wallace). No key.
YMC-SS-c: (WWII) framed individual black and white photographs. Names (in alphabetical order) and ages printed under each photo (James Arthur to David McIntyre). In the centre of the photos is the outline of a cross with the words: Lest We Forget.”
YMC-SS-d: (WWII & Korea) framed individual black and white photographs. Names (in alphabetical order) and ages printed under each photo ((Douglas McLean to Fred Wood). In the centre of the photos is the outline of a cross with the words: Lest We Forget.”
YMC-SS-e: (WWII) framed black and white photo with a stylized coloured mat headed “Whom the King Honoureth.” Underneath is a ribbon with the words: British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Below the photo: Flight Lieutenant Harry Deane MacDonald / Distinguished Flying Cross / This pilot, who has participated in a very large number of sorties, is described as an excellent / flight commander. “In addition to destroying five enemy aircraft, Flight Lieutenant MacDonald / has damaged three locomotives and executed vigorous attacks on other targets” states his citation. / He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in August, 1940, at Toronto, where his home is located.

Black and white photo, head and shoulders, of officer in RCAF uniform.

Flight Officer R.W. Russell died in 1953, while still a student at York Memorial Collegiate Institute, Toronto.

YMC-SS-f: (Peace Time) framed photo. Printed underneath photo: F/O R. W. Russell / 400 Squadron (Reserve) R.C.A.F. / who died on Canada’s service / Nov. 29th 1953 / while still a pupil at this school. Further information about F/O Russell.
YMC-SS-g: (WWII) Three-piece mural by Canadian artist John Hall, in the main rotunda at the entrance to the auditorium. The centre panel represents the family and community life which the men fought to preserve. The left panel suggests the sciences; the right panel depicts the arts. The artist has made his pictures symbolical rather than anecdotal. Partly paid for by a student council penny fund; subscriptions from staff, school board, and individuals completed the amount. Students had earlier raised hundreds of dollars for the war effort. Dedicated 27 Feb 1949, by former war padres: Rev. J. C. Clough, Rev A. J. Jackson and Rev. D. P. Rowland, MC. Blanche Snell, head of art department; Grant Woodward, president of the student council, and J. W. Ansley, principal, also took part in the ceremony.
YMC-SS-h: (WWI) plaque located outside the school: York Memorial / Collegiate Institute / “This school was constructed / as a memorial institute of / higher learning to commemorate / the youth of the York / community who gave their lives / for the cause of peace and freedom, that it may remain / forever a hallowing of their / memory and serve each generation of youth to follow.”
YMC-SS-i: (WWII) Tryptych stained-glass windows designed by Will Meike; fabricated by Robert McCausland Glassworks. The glass is set in squared frames of smooth-finished stone with cast bronze lamps at either side, in Tiffany-style opalescent shades.