Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute

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Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute
155 Paisley Street
Guelph, Ontario, N1H 2P3
Coordinates 43°32′34″N 80°15′33″W / 43.54278°N 80.25917°W / 43.54278; -80.25917Coordinates: 43°32′34″N 80°15′33″W / 43.54278°N 80.25917°W / 43.54278; -80.25917
School type Public
Motto Hic Patet Ingeniis Campus
("Here lies open the field for the quest of knowledge.")
Religious affiliation(s) Public School
Founded 1854
School board Upper Grand District School Board
Principal Robert Scott
Grades 9-12+
Enrollment 1555 (October 2016)
Language English
Colour(s) Green and white
Team name Gaels

The Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute (GCVI, Guelph C.V.I., GC) is a public high school in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. The school is the oldest continuously operating public high school in Guelph, and the third oldest in the province of Ontario, Canada.


The high school which eventually became known as the Guelph Collegiate and Vocational Institute (GCVI) was founded in the early-mid-19th century by John Galt, also the founder of Guelph, Ontario (1827). The school was originally housed in a large four window log building known as "the Priory"; itself one of the first buildings constructed in Guelph. In 1854 the school moved to its current site on Paisley Road due to the construction of the Grand Trunk Railway.

The original building on the new site was torn down after a few decades and a new school constructed. Eventually a wooden gymnasium was added in 1886, and the school remained the same until 1906, when a large new wing was added to the left of the bell tower.

Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute had Canada's first high school lunch cafeteria.

By this time the school was developing a reputation second to none in the province. Finally, by the nineteen twenties there were serious problems with overcrowding. In 1923 a new building opened (constructed at a cost of $400,000) that included modern plumbing, a massive skylight covering the large, two story, open auditorium area. It was called the most modern and upscale school building in Ontario.

The older buildings were connected to the school and used periodically before they were torn down in 1962 to facilitate several more additions including a modern gym, business and science wing, and tech wings.

Over the years tens of thousands of students have passed through the halls of GCVI, and many have left a memorable and distinct mark on the history of Canada.

Accomplished alumni include: Col. John McCrae (Author of "In Flanders Fields."), Hugh C. Guthrie (Canadian federal opposition leader, leader of the Conservative Party), Ed Joliffe (one of three GCVI Rhodes Scholars and founder of the Ontario CCF, and opposition leader in the Ontario House), George Alexander Drew (Mayor of Guelph, Premier of Ontario, Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, Leader of the Conservative Party, Ambassador to the UK, founding chairman of the Ontario Securities Commission, World War I hero).

A bronze plaque memorial dedicated to Col John McCrae was erected by the Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute.[1]


The Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute consists of four main buildings. The Old Building (building A) consists of three levels. The bottom level holds the visual arts department, chemistry department and a general sciences department. The floor above holds the guidance department, main office, geography department, math department and an auditorium that extends up into the top floor. The top floor holds the English department, family studies department and the biology department.

The New Building (building B) also has three levels. On the bottom level are the business and economics departments, the physics department and the nurse's office. On the floor above, there is a computer education department. The top floor has the history and the modern languages departments. Building C consists of two levels. On the first level are three separate gymnasiums. Above is the school cafeteria. Building D holds the school's technology departments and music department. The technology department has nine different shops. They include: integrated technology, transportation technology, manufacturing technology, construction technology, communication technology, technological design, computer engineering technology and computer and information science.


The Old Building of the Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute consists of building styles that are unique only to that school in the City of Guelph. The original oak doors are still present from the building's original construction in 1923. Marble and granite encase all of the hallway floors throughout The Old Building. The hallways on the main floor of The Old Building measure an outstanding 18 ft. in height. The main entrance way into the school is surrounded by a large archway. It is easy to see the vast number of students who have walked the halls of G.C.V.I. as there are large indents that have been left in the granite stairways of the school from many thousands of feet walking up and down them each day.

Notable alumni[edit]

Influence on Canadian history[edit]

  • Former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker married a GCVI teacher, and made two prominent visits to the school including a stop as opposition leader in 1957, just weeks before being sworn in as Prime Minister, and one as Prime Minister in 1963 just before losing the next election to Liberal Leader Lester B. Pearson
  • John Diefenbaker’s first visit launched the 17-year political career of Alfred Dryden Hales, alumnus of G.C.V.I. Hales chaired the Public Accounts Committee for 6 years, and was beloved by his constituents.
  • Less than 24 hours before Diefenbaker’s first visit Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent stopped at the school. Diefenbaker drew a much larger and much more enthusiastic crowd (a sure sign of what was to come in the election).
  • John Diefenbaker had replaced George Alexander Drew (a former GCVI Student) as leader of the Conservative Party less than a year before becoming Prime Minister in 1957.
  • During the Ontario provincial elections of 1943, 1945 and 1948, both the Premier George Alexander Drew and Opposition Leader Edward Bigelow (Ted) Jolliffe were former GCVI Students, so regardless of who won the election the Premier of Ontario would have been a GCVI alumnus.[2]
  • George Alexander Drew was the second GCVI student to hold the position of Federal Leader of the Opposition, following Hugh Guthrie, who held the post for little under a year in the early half of the 20th century.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-11. Retrieved 2015-01-31.  Col John McCrae plaque
  2. ^ Star Staff (1945-06-02). "The Man Who Makes the Charges". The Toronto Daily Star. Toronto. p. 4. 

External links[edit]