Milestone 100th anniversary in the offing for Glebe Collegiate Institute

Connie Boynton

Past teachers and alumni of Glebe Collegiate Institute (GCI) were among those in attendance at a recent community open house at the school to launch the planning of celebrations to mark GCI’s 100th anniversary in 2022/23 and to gather ideas on the milestone event from the community.

The school officially opened in 1923, and this looks like it was taken shortly after, but comes from a book dated to 1929-30. Photo from Lost Ottawa Facebook

The school officially opened in 1923, and this looks like it was taken shortly after, but comes from a book dated to 1929-30. Photo from Lost Ottawa Facebook


Panning and fundraising for the landmark 100th-anniversary celebration have begun in earnest. The recent open house helped to generate many ideas, some of them coming from a wide range of attendees, including those who had attended at the school’s 50th and 75th anniversaries. A proposed heritage plaque at the school and the refurbishment of the GCI auditorium, which is well used by the high school and also by the community, were two ideas that generated considerable discussion.

Glebe Collegiate Institute has a long and storied history, and many youngsters who grew up in Old Ottawa East did their high schooling at GCI. GCI holds fond memories for the many alumni and families affiliated with the school and fosters strong devotion from current students. Past students Of GCI have gone on to excel in various disciplines in the arts and sciences, including illustrious alumni such as Peter Mansbridge, Alanis Morissette and Angela Hewitt.

In 1919, the Adolescent School Attendance Act became law in Ontario and introduced compulsory school attendance until age 16, leading to a dramatic rise in secondary school enrolment.

In those days, the community now known as the Glebe would have been considered out of town. Distant as it was from the downtown, it was an area marked at that time by many dirt roads and empty hills, and by the newly-commenced construction of an impressive and imposing school building. Glebe Collegiate Institute began holding classes in the fall of 1922 before construction of the school was fully completed. As a result, the official opening was delayed until 1923.

GCI was initially created as an expansion of the Ottawa Collegiate Institute (OCI) which was housed in the building that is now Lisgar Collegiate Institute. OCI initially consisted of the Glebe and the Lisgar campuses, which led to much rivalry between the schools. Early on, Lisgar campus students were attending a banquet at the Glebe campus when a food fight erupted that only intervention by the principal could quell. Eventually, Glebe and Lisgar became separate entities with their own administrations.

Glebe Collegiate look like today. Photo from Glebe Collegiate Facebook

Glebe Collegiate look like today. Photo from Glebe Collegiate Facebook


Today, as an almost 100-year-old building, Glebe Collegiate is in need of some revitalization, however, certain aspects of an older building are difficult to fix. One difficulty is the lack of air conditioning. Other parts of the school are ageing but can be repaired. As noted, one possible anniversary project brought to the attention of anniversary organizers would involve fixing the school’s auditorium.

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