Park Public (now Nelson Mandela Park) is the oldest school on its original site in Toronto. From the 1700s, the area north of Lake Ontario and east of Parliament to the Don River was known as "The Park". The original school building was built in 1853. It opened on April 5, 1853 with four classrooms - one of only three city public schools.
Between 1914 -1917, the total enrollment of the school was 1259, the construction of the school expanded to become the largest school built in Canada. At the time, the cost to build the school was $182,000.
The old school was used until 1920 when it was torn down to provide playground space for students attending the more modern school completed in 1917.
In those old days, students sat in desks that were bolted to the floor. Here's a picture of a Grade One class from the 1930s.
The school gym was added in 1957. At that time, there was also no school parking lot. Here's an overhead view of South Regent Park and its surrounding neighborhood taken in 1955. A very different view of the community compare to what it is today.
On Saturday, November 17, 2001 at 9:35AM, Nelson Mandela, one of the most important fighters for democracy, freedom and justice in the 20th century attended a ceremony in which Park Jr. and Sr. Public School was renamed in his honour.
To read the speech made by Nelson Mandela on this day, click here.
On Saturday, February 7, 2004, Nelson Mandela Park Public School celebrated its 151st birthday. Our school is the oldest school in Toronto that is still standing on its original site. We were very excited to share that special day with former students, teachers and community members.
On June 12, 2010, Nelson Mandela Park Public School celebrated the official temporary closing of the doors to an exciting Rebuild Project. On March 18, 2013 the newly rebuilt Nelson Mandela Park Public School opened to the great excitement of the entire Regent Park community.
Nelson Mandela Park Public School remains an important and central connecting force in the Regent Park Community.