In the 1880’s, Katherine Lang Durnan took children into her home to teach them. In 1888, it was decided to open a school on the Island. The City gave the land, at no charge to the School Board, on which to build a one-room schoolhouse, located near the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse.
The first teacher, Miss Clark, had 16 students and she earned an annual salary of $345. However, the school was often closed in the winter because few people made their year-round homes on the island.
In 1896 the school became a permanent fixture and the teacher, Miss Helyer, was paid $350 for the year of teaching. This was the salary of a principal back then but since the school had only one employee, she was paid at the higher rate. It is interesting to note that the school’s caretaker, Mr. Durnan, who was also the Lighthouse Keeper, was paid $100 per year for both jobs.
In 1901 school enrolment was 12 but that gradually increased. When the school was destroyed by fire a new one was built close to the lighthouse. Additions to that school continued to be made until it was closed in 1999.
In 1960, the Toronto Board of Education decided to create a unique overnight science program, the second of its kind in North America and they choose to locate this program on the Island. That program still exists today, and your child will be participating in it.
The current building, which is shared with a public school, was opened in September of 1999 at a cost of $8.5 million. A partnership with the Wasauksing Parry Island First Nation, produced a design which featured huge pine logs in recognition of the Island’s first native settlements.