Jarvis Collegiate Institute – Founded Over 200 Years Ago

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1920s - Looking northeast towards Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute
1920s – Looking northeast towards Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute (Toronto Public Library R-5694)

Jarvis Collegiate Institute was the first public high school in Toronto. It’s located at ‪495 Jarvis St‬ (at Wellesley St E) in the Upper Jarvis neighbourhood of Toronto.

The Home District Grammar School

Jarvis Collegiate Institute was founded as the Home District Grammar School in 1807. The school began with five students in a one-storey building attached to the headmaster’s home, which once stood at the southeast corner of King St E and George St.

In 1812, John Strachan (the future first Anglican Bishop of Toronto) became headmaster. Over the decade and under his supervision, the school gained recognition for its education standards and graduates. The following year, classes were relocated to a barn once at Yonge and King Sts.

In 1816, a new building was constructed near the northeast corner of Adelaide St E and Church St. It was known as the “Old Blue School” due to its blue paint. In the early decades, to keep up with increasing enrollment, the school moved to larger and larger buildings in the downtown area.

Toronto High School & the first Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute

1890 - Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute, originally known as the Toronto High School, opened in 1871. It was located on the east side of Jarvis St, just south of Carlton St. It was vacated in 1924 when the present-day school opened
1890 – Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute, originally known as the Toronto High School, opened in 1871. It was located on the east side of Jarvis St, just south of Carlton St. It was vacated in 1924 when the present-day school opened (Archives of Ontario I0001803)

In 1871, the Toronto High School, as it was initially known, opened on the east side of Jarvis St, just south of Carlton St. The school was designed by architect William Kauffmann. It was made of white brick and had an elegant slate roof. Within a few years, the school’s name was changed to Toronto Collegiate Institute, and in 1890, it became known as the Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute.

The Present-Day School

Construction began on the Jarvis Collegiate Institute in 1922. It was designed by Charles E C Dyson, the Chief Architect for the Toronto Board of Education. Created in the Collegiate Gothic style, the architectural gem is symmetrical and features arched entrances with a projecting tower and cut stone oriel window bays. On opening day, April 28, 1924, about 800 joyous students marched 450 m north up Jarvis St from the old school to their new one. The school could accommodate 1,360 students in the classrooms and featured various amenities, including a swimming pool, an art room, a study library, a conservatory for the study of biology, a 1,000-seat auditorium and a gym.

Extensions and renovations have been made to the historic school building, and over the past 100 years, it has served generations of students.

2020 – Looking southeast towards Jarvis Collegiate Institute was Toronto's first public high school
2020 – Looking southeast towards Jarvis Collegiate Institute was Toronto’s first public high school

Did You Know?

  • While its locations have changed, the school was founded over two centuries ago.
  • Notable grads from Jarvis CI include Roy Thomson, Conn Smythe, Mayor Olivia Chow and Aubrey Drake Graham.
  • When architect Charles Dyson passed away in 1960, he had designed almost half of the city’s junior and high schools, built between 1920 and 1950.
  • The building received heritage designation from the city in 1991.
  • The school was named after Jarvis Street, while the street was named after the Jarvis family, who once resided on the land.

Jarvis Collegiate Institute Photos

1920s - Looking northeast towards Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute from the intersection of Jarvis St & Maitland St. The school held its first classes in 1924
1920s – Looking northeast towards Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute from the intersection of Jarvis St & Maitland St. The school held its first classes in 1924 (Toronto Public Library R-5694)
2023 - Looking northeast from Jarvis St and Maitland St towards Jarvis Collegiate Institute. The school was founded as the Home District Grammar School in 1807 when Toronto was known as York. The first school was located in a building once at the southeast corner of King St E & George St
2023 – Looking northeast from Jarvis St and Maitland St towards Jarvis Collegiate Institute. The school was founded as the Home District Grammar School in 1807 when Toronto was known as York. The first school was located in a building once at the southeast corner of King St E & George St
April 28, 1924 - Pupils walking 450 m up Jarvis St from the previous school building at 355-365 Jarvis St to the new Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute at 495 Jarvis St. The parade of students marched up the street to the roll of drums with Union Jack flags flying
April 28, 1924 – Pupils walking 450 m up Jarvis St from the previous school building at 355-365 Jarvis St to the new Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute at 495 Jarvis St. The parade of students marched up the street to the roll of drums with Union Jack flags flying (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 2477)
April 28, 1924 - Pupils entering the main doors at the Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute on opening day. The school's formal opening took place on the evening of Friday, May 2, 1924
April 28, 1924 – Pupils entering the main doors at the Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute on opening day. The school’s formal opening took place on the evening of Friday, May 2, 1924 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 2480)
2021 - The beautiful architecture of Jarvis Collegiate Institute's tower and main entrance
2021 – The beautiful architecture of Jarvis Collegiate Institute’s tower and main entrance
2020 – Jarvis Collegiate Institute was Toronto's first public high school, established in 1807
2020 – Jarvis Collegiate Institute was Toronto’s first public high school, established in 1807
Circa 1950 - Looking northeast towards Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute from the intersection of Jarvis St and Maitland St. The architectural gem is symmetrical, and features arched entrances with a projecting tower and cut stone oriel window bays
Circa 1950 – Looking northeast towards Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute from the intersection of Jarvis St and Maitland St. The architectural gem is symmetrical, and features arched entrances with a projecting tower and cut stone oriel window bays (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1128, Series 380, Item 207)
January 21, 2024 - Looking northeast toward Jarvis Collegiate Institute. Notable Jarvis CI graduates include Roy Thomson, Conn Smythe, Mayor Olivia Chow and Aubrey Drake Graham
January 21, 2024 – Looking northeast toward Jarvis Collegiate Institute. Notable Jarvis CI graduates include Roy Thomson, Conn Smythe, Mayor Olivia Chow and Aubrey Drake Graham
1972 – Looking southeast from Wellesley St E and Jarvis St‬ toward Jarvis Collegiate Institute. Notable graduates from the school include Roy Thomson, Conn Smythe, Mayor Olivia Chow and Aubrey Drake Graham
1972 – Looking southeast from Wellesley St E and Jarvis St‬ toward Jarvis Collegiate Institute. Notable graduates from the school include Roy Thomson, Conn Smythe, Mayor Olivia Chow and Aubrey Drake Graham (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 49, Item 26)
2020 – Jarvis Collegiate Institute is located at the southeast corner of Jarvis St and Wellesley St E in Toronto. The building received heritage designation in 1991
2020 – Jarvis Collegiate Institute is located at the southeast corner of Jarvis St and Wellesley St E in Toronto. The building received heritage designation in 1991
January 21, 2024 - Jarvis Collegiate Institute nameplate at the front entrance
January 21, 2024 – Jarvis Collegiate Institute nameplate at the front entrance
2023 - Looking southeast towards Jarvis Collegiate Institute at ‪495 Jarvis St‬ in Toronto's Upper Jarvis neighbourhood. When the school opened in 1924, it could accommodate 1,360 students
2023 – Looking southeast towards Jarvis Collegiate Institute at ‪495 Jarvis St‬ in Toronto’s Upper Jarvis neighbourhood. When the school opened in 1924, it could accommodate 1,360 students
March 22, 1926 - Students welcoming Lord & Lady Allenby at Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute during their visit to Toronto
March 22, 1926 – Students welcoming Lord & Lady Allenby at Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute during their visit to Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 7345)
October 13, 1927 - In celebration of the Jarvis Collegiate Institute's "Double-Diamond" (120th) anniversary, the students of the school presented the Board of Education with a flagpole. The school was originally known as the Home District Grammar School, and over the years, had a few name changes, including the Toronto Grammar School, Toronto High School, Toronto Collegiate and today, Jarvis Collegiate, the name given in 1890
October 13, 1927 – In celebration of the Jarvis Collegiate Institute’s “Double-Diamond” (120th) anniversary, the students of the school presented the Board of Education with a flagpole. The school was originally known as the Home District Grammar School, and over the years, had a few name changes, including the Toronto Grammar School, Toronto High School, Toronto Collegiate and today, Jarvis Collegiate, the name given in 1890 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 11867)
January 21, 2024 - In 1927, at this location, the students of Jarvis Collegiate Institute presented the Board of Education with a flagpole celebrating the school’s 120th anniversary
January 21, 2024 – In 1927, at this location, the students of Jarvis Collegiate Institute presented the Board of Education with a flagpole celebrating the school’s 120th anniversary
2021 - Jarvis Collegiate Institute with the heritage plaque
2021 – Jarvis Collegiate Institute with the heritage plaque
November 6, 1928 - War memorial at Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute
November 6, 1928 – War memorial at Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 15351)
2021 - Jarvis Collegiate Institute was the city's first public high school, founded in 1807 when Toronto was known as York. It began as the Home District Grammar School that was once at the southeast corner of King St E and George St
2021 – Jarvis Collegiate Institute was the city’s first public high school, founded in 1807 when Toronto was known as York. It began as the Home District Grammar School that was once at the southeast corner of King St E and George St
May 17, 1935 - Testing the pool at Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute
May 17, 1935 – Testing the pool at Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 32, Item 857)
2021 - The Jarvis Collegiate Institute building was created in the Collegiate Gothic style and designed by Charles E C Dyson, the Chief Architect for the Toronto Board of Education
2021 – The Jarvis Collegiate Institute building was created in the Collegiate Gothic style and designed by Charles E C Dyson, the Chief Architect for the Toronto Board of Education
2022 - Looking northeast towards Toronto's Jarvis Collegiate Institute. Over the past century, it has served generations of students
2022 – Looking northeast towards Toronto’s Jarvis Collegiate Institute. Over the past century, it has served generations of students
2020 – Looking northeast toward the Maitland St entrance of Jarvis Collegiate Institute
2020 – Looking northeast toward the Maitland St entrance of Jarvis Collegiate Institute
2020 – The heritage plaque reads:

Jarvis Collegiate Institute 

“Established in 1807 as the Home District Grammar School, Jarvis Collegiate is one of the oldest public secondary schools in Ontario. In 1812, the Reverend John Strachan, later first Anglican Bishop of Toronto, became headmaster, and during the next decade he laid the groundwork for the school's outstanding reputation. An excellent teacher and ardent advocate of higher education under church supervision, Strachan attempted to imbue his students with strong religious principles and insisted upon a rich and varied curriculum. Under his direction, the grammar school gained wide recognition for its high academic standards and eminent graduates. After his departure the collegiate moved to various sites and underwent several name changes until this structure, designed by C.E. Dyson, was completed in 1924.”
2020 – The heritage plaque reads:

Jarvis Collegiate Institute

“Established in 1807 as the Home District Grammar School, Jarvis Collegiate is one of the oldest public secondary schools in Ontario. In 1812, the Reverend John Strachan, later first Anglican Bishop of Toronto, became headmaster, and during the next decade he laid the groundwork for the school’s outstanding reputation. An excellent teacher and ardent advocate of higher education under church supervision, Strachan attempted to imbue his students with strong religious principles and insisted upon a rich and varied curriculum. Under his direction, the grammar school gained wide recognition for its high academic standards and eminent graduates. After his departure the collegiate moved to various sites and underwent several name changes until this structure, designed by C.E. Dyson, was completed in 1924.”

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, Ministry of Citizenship and Culture
January 21, 2024 - Jarvis Collegiate Institute French heritage plaque
January 21, 2024 – Jarvis Collegiate Institute French heritage plaque
Between 1900 and 1924 - Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute used to be located at 355-365 Jarvis St, just south of Carlton St, until it was vacated in 1924 when the school that we are familiar with today opened
Between 1900 and 1924 – Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute used to be located at 355-365 Jarvis St, just south of Carlton St, until it was vacated in 1924 when the school that we are familiar with today opened (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1568, Item 390)
1890 - Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute, originally known as the Toronto High School, opened in 1871. It was located on the east side of Jarvis St, just south of Carlton St. It was vacated in 1924 when the present-day school opened
1890 – Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute, originally known as the Toronto High School, opened in 1871. It was located on the east side of Jarvis St, just south of Carlton St. It was vacated in 1924 when the present-day school opened (Archives of Ontario I0001803)
1899 - Goads Map showing the location of the first Jarvis Collegiate Institute, previously the Toronto Collegiate Institute (Toronto Public Library)
1899 – Goads Map showing the location of the first Jarvis Collegiate Institute, previously the Toronto Collegiate Institute (Toronto Public Library)
January 21, 2024 - Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute, previously known as the Toronto High School, was located on the east side of Jarvis St, just south of Carlton St, from 1871 until 1924, when the present-day school opened. It was located next to Grace Toronto Church (originally St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church) and Allan Gardens
January 21, 2024 – Jarvis Street Collegiate Institute, previously known as the Toronto High School, was located on the east side of Jarvis St, just south of Carlton St, from 1871 until 1924, when the present-day school opened. It was located next to Grace Toronto Church (originally St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church) and Allan Gardens
Between 1816 and 1829 - A watercolour painted in 1912 showing the "Old Blue School," once located near the northeast corner of Adelaide St E and Church St. The school held classes in this building from 1816 until 1829 and was a predecessor to Jarvis Collegiate Institute
Between 1816 and 1829 – A watercolour painted in 1912 showing the “Old Blue School,” once located near the northeast corner of Adelaide St E and Church St. The school held classes in this building from 1816 until 1829 and was a predecessor to Jarvis Collegiate Institute (Toronto Public Library R-4790)
2022 - The plaque reads:

Home District School

"On this site, on June 1, 1807, The Rev. George Okill Stuart opened the first public school at York in a small one-storey stone building attached to his modest frame house. In 1813 the school was removed to a barn at the corner of King and Yonge Streets, where classes were held until 1816, when the "Old Blue School" was erected on Church Street."

The York Pioneer and Historical Society

The plaque is located at the southeast corner of King St E and George St, where the school once stood
2022 – The plaque reads:

Home District School

“On this site, on June 1, 1807, The Rev. George Okill Stuart opened the first public school at York in a small one-storey stone building attached to his modest frame house. In 1813 the school was removed to a barn at the corner of King and Yonge Streets, where classes were held until 1816, when the “Old Blue School” was erected on Church Street.”

The York Pioneer and Historical Society
The plaque is located at the southeast corner of King St E and George St, where the school once stood
SOURCE
  • City of Toronto Heritage Register: 495 Jarvis St
  • Ontario Heritage Trust: Jarvis Collegiate Institute plaque
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Sep 1, 1922, pg X14
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Apr 5, 1924, pg 16
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Apr 29, 1924, pg 14
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Mar 23, 1926, pg 11
  • The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Oct 14, 1927, pg 13
  • Journal of Education: Dec 1871, pgs 187-188
  • Landmarks of Toronto: Volume 1 by J Ross Robertson (1894), pgs 115-120
  • Jarvis Collegiate Institute: History
  • Photos: Denise Marie for TorontoJourney416
  • Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives, Toronto Public Library & Archives of Ontario

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