Islington's Public Schools

Islington's first school classes were taught in an existing small building on a corner of Benjamin Johnston’s property on Burnhamthorpe Road. In 1832, a larger frame one-room school was built on land donated by Amasa Wilcox where the Islington Seniors’ Centre at 4968 Dundas Street West is now located. Initially it was funded by parents and donations, but in 1847, the school became part of the Home District School Council and was called School Section No. 8. By 1883, this school was overcrowded and the school’s trustees replaced it with a larger red brick one-room building on the west side of Cordova Avenue, south of Dundas. It was designed by Weston architect William Tyrrell, and had buff brick trim, skylights, a real slate blackboard, and a handsome belfry.

In 1883, the 1832 school building was moved closer to Dundas Street, rotated 90 degrees, and converted into a residence by local carpenter, Thomas Ide. Later, a small storefront was added where Lloyd Watts operated Islington Hardware and Electric. Truesdale’s Dairy built a new block building on the site in the 1930s. Earle Gordon purchased the dairy in 1938. operating it as Gordon’s Ayrshire Dairy until 1946 when he sold out to Borden’s Dairy. After being used as offices for Etobicoke Township, it has been the Islington Seniors’ Centre since 1960.

A new six-room school with auditorium, stage, and indoor plumbing was opened on the same Cordova Avenue site in 1920. By 1959, this school had 22 classrooms, including ones for home economics and industrial arts. School enrolment continued to increase, and in 1974 the current school was started in 1974. It celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1983, the second oldest school in Toronto. Enlarged again in 1994, it now houses both Islington Junior Middle School and Islington Community School. George and Mary Johnston’s eldest son, Thomas, was one of the first three trustees of the 1832 school, and four generations of Johnstons went on to hold that position over the next 120 years.

Starting in 1921, continuation grades 9 and 10 began in the public school as there was no local high school. In 1928, Etobicoke High School – the first in Etobicoke - opened on Montgomery Road, just north of the CPR tracks. It was designed by Stephen Burwell Coon in a classical revival style, with eight classrooms and a gymnasium. Today, as Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, it is one of the largest high schools in Toronto’s west end with 1200 students.