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

2020 - Jesse Ketchum School, looking northeast
2020 – Jesse Ketchum School, looking northeast

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 and included 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
1860s – Jesse Ketchum (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 school children that 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 School, looking northeast
2020 – Jesse Ketchum School, looking northeast
2020 - The entrances of Jesse Ketchum School
2020 – The entrances of Jesse Ketchum School
1913 - Ketchum Park
1913 – Ketchum Park (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Sub Series 52, Item 214)
2020 - Jesse Ketchum Park
2020 – Jesse Ketchum Park
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 (Library and Archives Canada a073445)
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 (Library and Archives Canada a073444)
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
1860s – Jesse Ketchum (Toronto Public Library B3-72E)
1800s - Watercolour of Jesse Ketchum's home once on Yonge st and Adelaide St, northwest corner
1800s – Watercolour of Jesse Ketchum’s home once on Yonge st and Adelaide St, northwest corner (Toronto Public Library R-2284)
2020 - The entrances of Jesse Ketchum School, looking northeast
2020 – The entrances of Jesse Ketchum School, looking northeast
2020 - Jesse Ketchum School heritage plaque
2020 – Jesse Ketchum School heritage plaque
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