Jesse Ketchum School – The Gift of a “Free and Common School”

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2020 - Jesse Ketchum Junior and Senior Public School is located at 61 Davenport Rd and Bay St in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Jesse Ketchum Junior and Senior Public School is located at 61 Davenport Rd and Bay St in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto

Jesse Ketchum Junior and Senior Public School is located at 61 Davenport Rd (at Bay St, on the west side) in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto.

The Jesse Ketchum Schools

The first school was established in 1832 on land donated by Mr Ketchum. It was located at McMurrich St and Davenport Rd.

In 1856, Jesse Ketchum made a further land donation to the Village of Yorkville for a park and school. It was to be for a “free and common school.” The second structure and its various additions were replaced with the present-day school. The building was completed in the mid-1910s; however, due to WWI, it was converted into barracks for Royal Flying Corps recruits. It returned to the originally intended school use in 1920. By 1958, Jesse Ketchum School had 1,000 pupils in 31 rooms. That same year, a renovation and addition were completed, including a gym, science room, music room, art room, drama room, cafeteria, and new lighting.

In 2002, the school was designated a heritage property by the City.

A Gentle and Benevolent Person

1860s - Jesse Ketchum was born in New York state in 1782 and came to Canada in 1799
1860s – Jesse Ketchum was born in New York state in 1782 and came to Canada in 1799 (Toronto Public Library B3-72E)

Born in New York state in 1782, Jesse Ketchum came to Canada in 1799. A tanner by trade, he owned and later donated what is today some of the country’s most expensive blocks bordered by Yonge, Adelaide, Bay and Queen Sts. Mr Ketchum’s home and tannery were on the northwest corner of Yonge and Adelaide Sts.

Along with gifting the land that the previous school, current school and park are built on, Mr Ketchum also helped establish churches and libraries in Toronto. The philanthropist set up trusts for schoolchildren who exhibited good behaviour and were diligent in their studies. In the 1840s, Jesse moved his tannery business to Buffalo, NY. He passed away in the Queen City (Buffalo) in 1867. Jesse Ketchum has schools and a street named after him in Buffalo, too.

Jesse Ketchum School Photos

1920s - Looking northeast towards Jesse Ketchum School at 61 Davenport Rd and Bay St
1920s – Looking northeast towards Jesse Ketchum School at 61 Davenport Rd and Bay St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 265)
2020 - Jesse Ketchum Junior and Senior Public School is located at 61 Davenport Rd and Bay St in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto. In 2002, the school was designated a heritage property by the City
2020 – Jesse Ketchum Junior and Senior Public School is located at 61 Davenport Rd and Bay St in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto. In 2002, the school was designated a heritage property by the City
2021 - The front entrance of Jesse Ketchum School
2021 – The front entrance of Jesse Ketchum School
October 16, 1913 - Jesse Ketchum Park at 1310 Bay St in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto
October 16, 1913 – Jesse Ketchum Park at 1310 Bay St in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Sub Series 52, Item 214)
2020 - Jesse Ketchum Park
2020 – Jesse Ketchum Park
2020 - Looking northeast toward the entrances of Jesse Ketchum School
2020 – Looking northeast toward the entrances of Jesse Ketchum School
2021 – Looking northwest towards Jesse Ketchum Junior and Senior Public School
2021 – Looking northwest towards Jesse Ketchum Junior and Senior Public School
December 4, 2022 – Looking west from Bay St towards Jesse Ketchum School
December 4, 2022 – Looking west from Bay St towards Jesse Ketchum School
December 4, 2022 – Jesse Ketchum Public School
December 4, 2022 – Jesse Ketchum Public School
2022 – The heritage plaque reads: 

Jesse Ketchum School   

“In 1856, Jesse Ketchum, tanner and philanthropist, donated this land to the Village of Yorkville for a public park and as a site for a "Free and Common School." The school erected at that time, with later additions, was replaced by the present building in 1920. Jesse Ketchum had first given land for a school, built in 1832, at McMurrich Street and Davenport Road. Born in 1782, Jesse Ketchum came to York (Toronto) from the United States in 1799. A gentle, Christian, public-spirited man, known as the "Children's Friend," he helped establish churches, schools, libraries, and set up trusts to provide prizes for school children as "incentives to diligent studies, correct deportment, and good behaviour." He died in Buffalo in 1867.” 

January 19, 1982 
Toronto Historical Board 1982
2022 – The heritage plaque reads:

Jesse Ketchum School

“In 1856, Jesse Ketchum, tanner and philanthropist, donated this land to the Village of Yorkville for a public park and as a site for a “Free and Common School.” The school erected at that time, with later additions, was replaced by the present building in 1920. Jesse Ketchum had first given land for a school, built in 1832, at McMurrich Street and Davenport Road. Born in 1782, Jesse Ketchum came to York (Toronto) from the United States in 1799. A gentle, Christian, public-spirited man, known as the “Children’s Friend,” he helped establish churches, schools, libraries, and set up trusts to provide prizes for school children as “incentives to diligent studies, correct deportment, and good behaviour.” He died in Buffalo in 1867.”

January 19, 1982
Toronto Historical Board 1982
Between 1900 and 1910 - The second Jesse Ketchum School on the west side of Davenport Rd at Bay St
Between 1900 and 1910 – The second Jesse Ketchum School on the west side of Davenport Rd at Bay St (Toronto Public Library R-6642)
1912 - A classroom in the second Jesse Ketchum School
1912 – A classroom in the second Jesse Ketchum School (Library and Archives Canada a073445)
1909 - The principal at the second Jesse Ketchum School with a portrait of Jesse Ketchum on the wall
1909 – The principal at the second Jesse Ketchum School with a portrait of Jesse Ketchum on the wall (Library and Archives Canada a073444)
1860s - Jesse Ketchum was born in New York state in 1782 and came to Canada in 1799
1860s – Jesse Ketchum was born in New York state in 1782 and came to Canada in 1799 (Toronto Public Library B3-72E)
1800s - Watercolour of Jesse Ketchum's home once on Yonge St and Adelaide St at the northwest corner
1800s – Watercolour of Jesse Ketchum’s home once on Yonge St and Adelaide St at the northwest corner (Toronto Public Library R-2284)
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