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Another Chapter in St. Joseph’s History

The afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 26, both marked and celebrated one more step in the ongoing history of St. Joseph's College School. Of the many schools founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto, this one traces its roots back to the original "academy" opened on Power Street in 1854, just three years after the first four Sisters arrived in Toronto.   There have been many changes over time.  For years a private school, the College School, like most other Catholic secondary schools, has gradually come to be under the direction of the Toronto District Catholic School Board.  And now one more change has been made: the land and building itself have been purchased by the Board.

The gathering began with Mass celebrated in nearby St. Basil's church by Father David Katulski CSB, who has said Mass daily in the school for a number of years. Former members of the school staff acted as lectors and ministers of the Eucharist, and music was provided by the school choir.  The interval before the final blessing was given over to greetings, reflections and thoughts of the future.  Among those who spoke were Les Nemes, Director of Education; Catherine LeBlanc-Miller, Chair of the Board; school trustee, M.C. Havey, parent (see the full text of her remarks, below); and Sister Conrad Lauber CSJ, the last Sister-Principal of the school.  The message from each one was clear:  we celebrate not only the history of this school but its long tradition of excellence in Catholic education, a tradition which will be continued and built upon in the coming years.

To end the celebration, two presentations were made: the first, a historical plaque of the school, donated by M.C. Havey, and a portrait of Gertrude Lawlor, an early student of both SJCS and St. Joseph's College, donated by the Sisters of St. Joseph.

In her closing remarks, Principal Luisa Cangelosi invited all present to the College School for refreshments.  Many teachers and students of former years greeted one another with joy, sharing again the community they had known in years gone by.

The principal and Sisters associated with the school posed for a photo, below.

All in all, this afternoon was a fitting ritual to mark one more step in the long tradition of St. Joseph's College School.

By Mary Buckley CSJ
Pictures by Linda Wicks


Remarks by M.C. Havey
St. Basil’s Church
Oct. 26, 2008

My name is M.C. Havey and I am graduate of St. Joseph’s High School, Islington, in 1967 and chair of the parent council in 2004-2005. At St. Joe’s Islington, we also looked to the College School as the Big Sister.

A few months ago, I came upon two family heirlooms in connection with St. Joseph’s.

The first was my great aunt’s medal for Christian and Sacred History and Doctrine — dated 1893 and the second was my mother’s honour graduate medal — dated 1939.

These medals reminded me of the history of the school and my family’s attendance at St. Joseph’s spanning four generations — starting with my maternal grandmother and her two Sisters in the 1880s and 1890s; my mother and her two Sisters in 1920s and 1930s; three cousins in the 1960s and our daughter, who graduated in 2005.

Throughout our daughter’s four years at St. Joe’s and my involvement with the parent council, I increasingly appreciated the contemporary St. Joseph’s College School not only for its academic standing but for its historic downtown location amid the other bedrocks of Catholic education.

The daily walk our daughter took from the Wellesley subway station to the school also introduced her to the cultural and the other educational institutions in the area as well as developing her into a savvy shopper.

I also admired the indomitable spirit at St. Joe’s Wellesley derived from years of achievements, success and fun among teachers and students.

So this plaque in a small way commemorates and acknowledges this legacy of education of young women, which began under the expertise of the Sisters of St. Joseph and now continuing under the school board.

My hope for the readers of the plaque — those passersby on Wellesley Street or those entering the school — is that they will reflect on the significance of St. Joseph’s College School as one of the oldest and most cherished schools in Toronto.

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