Fisher Park High School
|Fisher Park High School|
|School board||Ottawa Carleton District School Board|
|Enrollment||490 (founding)- 1,900 (peak)- 500 (closure)|
|Colour(s)||Red and White|
|Communities served||River Ward, with College Ward and Knoxdale-Merivale Ward; Island Park, Bel-Air Park and Bel-Air Heights, Copeland Park and Carlington neighbourhoods|
|Feeder schools||J. H. Putman Public School, D. Roy Kennedy Public School, St. Joseph Intermediate School|
Located within a kilometre of Island Park Drive, Fisher Park's student population included children of many of Ottawa's wealthier citizens and a large contingent of Ottawa's Portuguese and Italian communities. The area contains a number of embassies, and occasionally the children of ambassadors attended the school.
The story of Fisher Park began in 1945 when Ottawa had only 4 high schools, and a plan was underway by the Collegiate Institute Board (a cooperation between the Ottawa Separate School Board and the Ottawa Public School Board) to build Ottawa its fifth high school in what was then referred to as the West End. On July 25, 1945, after much debate, Fisher Park was chosen as the site for the new school, and was touted "the most up-to-date building for student and community use that can be built." On December 21, 1946, the Ontario Department of Education announced approval of the school's plans, and building would begin in the spring. The school was estimated to cost $1,450,000.
On November 12, 1948, His Excellency Viscount Alexander, Governor General of Canada, laid the cornerstone of Fisher Park High School.
By 1949, however, cost overruns in the building of the school were "deplored" and resulted in a protest by the Board of Trade. "The additional cost of Fisher High School will have a very decided impact on Ottawa's taxpayers" said Roy F. Fleming, the secretary of the Property Owner's Association at the time. Many felt that there was an over-emphasis on recreation (the plan had been to make Fisher Park not only a high school but also a community centre). Plans to make the small gym into a pool, as well as a "girls" gym on the second floor, were scrapped.
Nevertheless, Fisher Park High School opened with the first day of classes on September 6, 1949. Construction continued for the entire first year of the school. Fisher Park was officially opened by the Honourable Leslie Frost (Premier of Ontario 1949-61) on May 2, 1951. The school was named after a former Ottawa mayor and "distinguished Canadian", Harold Fisher.
In 1950, a contest was held to name the Fisher Park yearbook. Out of over 200 entries, a student named John Foulds won a cash prize for his suggestion: "Fi Pa Hi."
When Laurentian High School opened in September 1958, 600 students enrolled, which was twice the number that had been expected. The LHS students reduced overcrowding at Nepean High School (Ottawa) and Fisher Park High School. Fisher High's enrolment dropped from 1,900 to 1,439 students.
During the late 1960s and early '70s the Ottawa School Board experimented at Fisher Park with extended freedom for students, e.g., allowing optional attendance at class and exemption from exams if they maintained consistently high grades.
In 1969, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau sent a letter of greetings to the students of the school for its 20th anniversary. The letter was published in the 68-69 Fi Pa Hi.
For 38 years, Fisher Park High was a proud, strong school described as "a student's dream come true," and claimed the distinction of being Ottawa's first composite vocational school, teaching academic subjects along with metalwork, woodwork, machine/auto shop, electricity, drama, arts, as well as finance and business. The first student body was 491 students in grades 9 and 10, and it peaked at 1,900 students in 1958, before the opening of Laurentian High which cut Fisher Park's population back to 1,439 in 1961. This number remained relatively stable for decades.
On October 25-26th, 1974, a 25th Reunion was held at Fisher Park. Hundreds of Fisher Park graduates returned to the school for festivities.
An excerpt from the yearbook entry about the 25th reunion:
"...All the students involved saw that hundreds of graduates were enthusiastically returning to Fisher Park to salute it. Their obvious pride in their old school, and the smiles of their faces as they recalled old memories at the Dinner Dance on Saturday night proved to be contagious. As one Fisher student remarked, "Nowhere have I seen so many people having such a really great time."
On July 16, 1986, the then trustees of the OBE voted (9-7) to close Fisher Park High School. Few FPHS students who were at the school in 1986 will forget an assembly at which Trustee Alex Cullen promised to help keep the school open, and then reneged and voted to close it. FPHS was thereby closed by the Ottawa Board of Education, effective in 1987, due to declining attendance.
The school crest was designed by Mr. Robert Walker, then the art director of Fisher Park High School's vocational art course, in the summer of 1952. The crest represented all courses within Fisher Park. The open book on the crest is symbolic of the general course, the open book representing learning. The three smaller panels below represent the three other courses at Fisher, the technical course, the art course, and the commercial course. A T-square, flask, cogwheel and electrical spark represent the technical course, the ship of commerce represents the commercial course, and the art section represented by a palette, brushes, pen and ink. The motto "Esto Dignus", "Be Worthy", was given to Fisher Park by its first vice-principal, Mr. L. McCarthy." - 69-70 Fi-Pa-Hi Yearbook
- Paul Anka — singer, songwriter, and actor. At the school in the 1950s he was part of a trio called the Bobby Soxers. , also IMDB listing.
- Tim Higgins — professional hockey player who played in the National Hockey League from 1978 to 1989.
- Robin Gammell — actor with several movies and television shows to his credit. IMDB listing
- Andrew Moodie — playwright and actor with several plays, movies and television shows to his credit. IMDB listing
- Luke Richardson — NHL hockey player (1987-2008) and coach
- Jeremy Hotz — stand-up comedian, writer for The Jon Stewart Show, actor IMDB listing
- Jeff Waters — heavy metal guitarist, founder of group Annihilator Jeff Waters
- Bruce Cassidy — NHL hockey player and coach
- The Evening Citizen (newspaper), Dec.21, 1946, front page, "Approve Fisher School Plan"
- The Evening Citizen (newspaper), Nov. 13, 1948, "Alexander Lays Stone at Fisher Park School"
- Ottawa Journal (newspaper), May 3, 1951, page 10, "At Fisher Park, Frost(y) Friday Free"
- Ottawa Citizen (newspaper), May 3, 1951, page 19, "Fisher Park High School Officially Opened by Premier Frost".
- Ottawa Citizen (newspaper), July 16, 1986, "OBE Trustees Reject Bid to Spare Fisher Park" Cathy Campbell and Jacquie Miller, Citizen Staff writers
- Fisher Park High School Yearbooks (the FiPaHi), 1950-51 (Issue 2), 1968-69 (Issue 20), 1969-70 (Issue 21), and 1974-75 (Issue 26)
- Keith, Janet. The Collegiate Institute Board of Ottawa: A Short History, 1843-1969. Ottawa: Kent, 1969.