Thomas D'Arcy McGee High School

Institution founded in 1931, Montréal, Québec.

September 21, 1931 saw the opening of the first high school for English speaking Catholic students in Montreal. The school was built on Pine Avenue between Jeanne-Mance and Sainte-Famille Streets, and was named in honour of the statesman and journalist of Irish descent, Thomas D’Arcy McGee. When it first opened, the school offered instruction to boys, under the direction of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and to girls, under the direction of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame. Each section had its own classrooms but shared the auditorium, gymnasium and the laboratories. At the start of its first school year, it received 447 girls divided in 12 classes from secondary 1 to 4. Because the number of students exceeded the school’s capacity, about 300 girls were redirected to other English language schools in Montreal. The Sisters were first lodged in Saint-Patrick School, and then, in 1932, the School Commission rented a residence on Sainte-Famille Street. Among the founding Sisters there were Sister Sainte-Rose-Anne (Mary Booth), Superior, Sister Saint Thomas of the Angels (Mary Lee Fraser) and Sister Saint Agnes of the Sacred Heart (Emily Frances Finn). Although the school was under the jurisdiction of the Montreal Catholic School Commission, the Sisters were given a certain freedom relative to their choice of courses. They established their own educational programme, the D’Arcy McGee Course of Studies (before that it was the programme of the Université de Montréal).

On April 13, 1932 the students, with their teachers and parents, commemorated the 107th anniversary of the birth of Thomas D’Arcy McGee during an evening of recitals and readings. This first school event became, through the years, a tradition. On October 26, 1932, the first graduates received their diplomas during a graduation ceremony, which was held at the Université de Montréal. These students created a precedent because they were the first girls educated in an English Catholic school to pass the McGill Matriculation exams. Throughout its history, D’Arcy McGee High School offered its students numerous possibilities of involvement in cultural activities and sports. In 1931, the school had a newspaper, the Student Prints, which became The Darcian in 1960 and which continued to be published until the school closed. The D’Arcy McGee sport teams distinguished themselves at the provincial level. They won numerous championships and some of their athletes, including Gerry Heffernan, were drafted by the Montreal Canadiens. In 1946, the school was growing and new classes had to be opened. In the same year, the first high school reunion was held. At an official ceremony held on February 25, 1951, the school unveiled a monument to the memory of former students who had lost their lives during the Second World War. The 1971 school year was marked by an important change in the school, which is now to accommodate both boys and girls under a same administration, henceforth, of lay persons. The 50th anniversary of the school in 1981 was highlighted by various celebrations which reunited former and current students and teachers. During the 1980’s, because of a significant decrease in the secondary student population, the school became a Junior High School for students in grades 7 and 8. There was some worry that the school would close, which it did in 1992.

NB: This text was written using documents found in the archival holdings in our possession and does not constitute a complete administrative history of the teaching establishment.

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Thomas D'Arcy McGee High School

Thomas D'Arcy McGee High School

Montreal, Quebec

Institution fondée en 1931

Dernière adresse : 220, avenue des Pins Ouest

220, avenue des Pins Ouest