The Catholic Schools: 1950 – 1960

Land was purchased in the Harmony district on the north side of Kingston Road East and St. Gertrude’s six room school was opened in 1955.

The possibilities were explored for starting grades nine and ten classes. All Catholic secondary students were attending the protestant high schools.

A music teacher, Miss Janet Spratt, was appointed in 1950. It is noticeable that the pupils in the Catholic schools take a very successful part in the varied community events, such as essay writing, public speaking contests and also Kiwanis singing contests. St. Gregory’s won two firsts and one third prize in their three entries in the Kiwanis Festival in 1954. I also noticed as I went over the newspapers of the early years in Oshawa, that the Catholic children presented some very fine programs under the guidance of the Sisters.

Rev. [Father] Philip Coffey was a tireless worker for the advancement of education in Oshawa. He came here in 1938. He was a representative for Catholic secondary students on the Board of Education from 1942 until his death on December 24th, 1963. His advice was greatly valued by the board members for the public schools as well as the high school.

Another person who should be mentioned is Rev. [Father]Frank Mahony. From 1952, when he first came to Canada, until his death in 1960, Father Mahony was an energetic worker for his parishioners in building both church and school. He was a member of the Separate school board from 1955 to 1959. He was the priest in charge of St. Gertrude’s parish.

In 1959, St. Christopher School was erected on Annapolis Street. For the second time in its one hundred year history, the Oshawa Separate system had a layman as principal. Mr. Frank Le Vay with a staff of six teachers took charge of this modern school and succeeded in establishing high standards of academic work and athletic ability[1].

Additional government grants brought forth efforts to prompt action in the building of a school in St. Hedwig’s parish in the southeast end of the city on Olive Avenue. This school was built in record time. Construction was started in the latter part of July and it was ready for classes on September 2nd of the same year. The school was put in the charge of the Felician Sisters – a religious order of Polish American women, who along with their excellent teaching habits and knowledge of the Polish language and customs were able to successfully handle the organization of this school with its high percentage of Polish pupils.

St. Joseph Catholic School in the north end of the city on Simcoe Street[2] is a very modern two-story building. It was complete in January 1858, but the pupils of St. Gregory, designated for this school remained there on shift until June. In September of that year Mr. David Fineen and a staff of three looked after the needs of St. Joseph.

St. Mary [of the People] Parish was established in 1957 and there was a need being pressed by the French Canadians in Oshawa for a bilingual school. More recent Catholic schools include: Corpus Christi, St. Francis, John F. Kennedy, St. Phillips, Sir Albert Love, and St. Thomas Aquinas.

All Catholic elementary schools have kindergartens.

In 1965, a new Catholic High School[3] was erected on Stevenson Road North. It is a very modern one story brick building of the newest design. Also a new convent was constructed near it. The convent provides room for twenty Sisters who teach in the various schools. Provision is made in the high school for all grades IX to XIII inclusive.

In the year 1962, space was made available in St. Joseph elementary school for Grade IX pupils and in the following year grade IX and X classes were conducted. This marked the beginning of separate schools for secondary students in Oshawa.

Oral French was taught in the Roman Catholic schools recently in Grade VII and in this year 1967 students will be learning to write French in grade VIII.

[1] Current Principal is Patty Orecchio

[2] This school has since moved to 1200 Summerwood Heights, just off of Harmony Road North.

[3] Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School


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