A Tradition in Art Education

The Art Department at Central Technical School spans a period of more than ninety years. Since its very beginning, in 1915, the school has made a significant contribution to the cultural life of our city, province and country.

The CTS Art Department was the first art school in the Toronto Public School System. Central Technical School gained the recognition of providing superior art training and producing a roster of some of the most illustrious artistic talents in Canada.

In its early years, CTS was instrumental in preparing design students for the war effort and offering returning vets new career options. It has consistently prepared students for a career in art. The school was founded on an approach towards education that was simple and effective: instructors were practicing professionals in their field of specialty – this idea was based on the Bauhaus model. Today this approach is maintained.

Alfred Howell, a sculptor from England, who trained at the Royal Academy of Art in London England, became the first director of art. His work was noted for the war memorials he was commissioned to create. He and his staff began to lay the foundation of art subjects to be taught in the classroom. Drawing and design were fundamental and essential in the development of a student’s education in visual arts.

Peter Haworth was an artist and designer who was trained at the Royal College in England, In 1929, he was appointed head of the art department. The conditions of his hiring included and encouraged the development of his own personal creative work. Today, the majority of the art staff devotes a reasonable amount of time towards the development and promotion of their own work. This feature is significant to the school’s tradition.

A staff of solid professionals became the foundation in the years that followed. Highly respected artists- Charles Goldhammer, Doris McCarthy, Bobs Cogill Haworth, Elizabeth Wyn Wood, Virginia Luz, Donald Neddeau, and others all taught at Central Technical School. The legion of graduates became ranking artists in Toronto, and made national names for themselves in all artistic disciplines, including graphic design, illustration, stage design, painting, sculpture, and ceramics.

In 1955, Charles Goldhammer, painter, illustrator and draughtsman became Head of Art. Under his leadership, the new art building known as the Art Centre was built (1961). In this new facility, fully equipped studios were designed to accommodate a new generation of students.

As the times changed so did the curriculum. In the early 1980’s there was a shift – weaving and jewelry studios were renovated to accommodate computer and video technology. Increasingly the school offers and urges students to participate in Co-op education where they can experience the reality of their career choices. As well, students are now required to complete a professional portfolio prior to graduation.

In 1991, Central Technical School celebrated its 75th anniversary. Under the headship of Marshal Bilous, a major exhibition took place celebrating the work and achievements of graduates.

Although specialized art departments do exist in other schools, it should be remembered that this department pioneered the concept of art as a specialized art program in the secondary school system, and inspired other schools by its success. Our record of achievement is exemplary.