Lisgar Collegiate Institute

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Lisgar Collegiate Institute
Lisgar Collegiate Institute logo.jpg
Alere Flammam
Nourish the Flame
29 Lisgar Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 0B9
Coordinates 45°25′14.2″N 75°41′17.0″W / 45.420611°N 75.688056°W / 45.420611; -75.688056Coordinates: 45°25′14.2″N 75°41′17.0″W / 45.420611°N 75.688056°W / 45.420611; -75.688056
Funding type Public
Founded 1843
School board Ottawa Carleton District School Board
Superintendent Walter Piovesan
Area trustee Jennifer McKenzie[1]
Administrator Neil Petrie
Principal Patsy Agard
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 1100
Campus Urban
Colour(s) Blue, Silver         
Team name Lords
Newspaper Lisgarwrite
Yearbook Vox Lycei
Communities served Sandy Hill, New Edinburgh, Centretown, Rockcliffe Park, Ontario
Public transit access Transitway stations Campus and Mackenzie King. Also served by routes 5, 6, and 14[2]
School presidents Osman Sharif
Mustafa Saeed

Lisgar Collegiate Institute is an Ottawa-Carleton District School Board secondary school in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Lisgar Collegiate Institute, one of the country's best regarded public schools, is located in downtown Ottawa by the Rideau Canal and is only a few blocks from Canada's Parliament Hill. The school serves the neighbourhoods of Sandy Hill, New Edinburgh, Centretown, and Rockcliffe Park, and has many students transferring from other areas, attracted by the school's reputation and prestige. In previous years, parents and students have camped out overnight to secure a "coveted transfer spot" to Lisgar, causing some controversy in the news.[3] Lisgar is known for its gifted student program, and has been ranked number one for public schools in Ottawa and 12th in the province by the Fraser Institute in 2008.[1][4][5] Its Reach for the Top team won the Canadian national finals in the 2008 and 2015 seasons. Lisgar has also won the National and International Whiz Quiz Trivia Challenge for the past two years[6] Lisgar's Improv team is also well known for its continued excellence in the Canadian Improv Games, winning the National Tournament back to back in 1999 and 2000 and qualifying for the Canadian National tournament every year since 2004.[7] Lisgar is also home to the OCESS, a student-run Space Simulation program.[8]


Ottawa Collegiate Institute c. 1875 - 1880

In 1843, a grammar school with 40 paying students was opened in the Sandy Hill area of Ottawa in a house at the corner of Waller Street and Daly Avenue. In 1859, the school became one of the first in Ontario to admit girls. The school changed locations several times in the first few years, and was renamed first Bytown Grammar School and later Ottawa Grammar School. In 1871 the school was raised to a high school and in 1873 to a collegiate institute, becoming Ottawa Collegiate Institute.

School library collection, 1910

The school found a permanent home in 1873 when a lot at what was then the southern edge of the city was purchased. The school board acquired the land on Biddy Street for $3,200 and paid a squatter $100 to give up any claims on the land. Biddy Street was renamed Lisgar Street in 1880 after Lord Lisgar, an Irishman who served as Canada's second Governor-General. A Gothic Revival style structure, designed by W.T. Thomas and W. Chesterton, was built at a cost of $26,000. Governor General Lord Dufferin (another Irishman) laid the cornerstone and the school opened in 1874.

In 1892, the school became the first public secondary school in Ontario to hire a female teacher.[9] Four new classrooms were added on the south side in 1892, but a fire in 1893 caused the school to be temporarily closed. Lisgar was one of a limiited number of buildings to survive the Great Ottawa fire. In 1903, the east wing was built with eight new classrooms. Ottawa architect Edgar Lewis Horwood added a west wing with laboratories and an auditorium in 1908.[10] A rifle range for the cadet corps, in the now blocked-off fifth-floor attic, was added in 1912, and a basement cafeteria in 1923. After the school was split in 1922 to form Glebe Collegiate Institute, OCI was renamed Ottawa Lisgar Street Collegiate Institute, which was soon shortened to Lisgar Collegiate Institute. Officially, the school remained OCI for several decades. Since the split, Glebe and Lisgar have been traditional rivals.[11][12]

Lisgar Collegiate Institute
View of Lisgar from the Mall, the area between the North and South buildings

In 1951, a new gymnasium was built across the street with a tunnel connecting it to the main building. It was not open for the use of students for many years, but it was re-opened in October 2015. The new building was enlarged in 1962. The old gym was turned into what is now the cafeteria. The old building and the newer building are now referred to as the North and South buildings, respectively.

In 1957, Lisgar was the first school in Ontario to introduce a special program for gifted students.

In the 1970s, a cash-strapped Ottawa Board of Education decided to close the school and sell its valuable downtown real estate. This action was blocked by community members and alumni, and the school was completely renovated instead.[13]

In 1996, the third floor of the North building was completely renovated and the science labs were modernized. In March 2003, parts of the first and second floors and the basement of the North building were damaged by a water main break that closed the school for a week, coincidentally before the previously-scheduled March Break, thus giving the students two weeks off school. Some minor changes were made to the affected floors floor in the reconstruction.

Memorial Hall[edit]

The Ottawa Lisgar Collegiate Institute erected a brass plaque which is dedicated to the memory of students of Ottawa Collegiate Institute (now known as Lisgar collegiate Institute) who gave their lives in the First World War.[14] A memorial is dedicated to the memory of Lieutenant Alexis Hannum Helmer who killed in action during the Great War; Unveiled in 2001, the plaque was erected by the Lisgar Alumni Association.[15] The Lisgar Collegiate Institute erected a memorial plaque which is dedicated to the memory of former Lisgar students who died during the Second World War.[16] A memorial framed poster erected by the Lisgar Collegiate Institute is dedicated to the sixteen Canadians awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery during the Second World War.[17] The Lisgar Collegiate Institute erected a memorial which is dedicated to the memory of former Lisgar students who died or served during the Korean War/Conflict.[18]

A brass plaque and print were erected by students and alumni in 1986 to Sergeant Edward James Gibson Holland, V.C. of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, a graduate of Lisgar Collegiate who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in action during the Boer War at Leliefontein, Komati River, South Africa on November 7, 1900.[19]

The Lisgar Collegiate Institute and Vintage Wings of Canada erected a memorial plaque unveiled in 2008, which is dedicated to the memory of Pilot Officer David Francis Gaston Rouleau, who had died during the Second World War trying to get to Malta.[20] The Lisgar Collegiate Institute erected a memorial frame including a Canadian flag which was flown in Afghanistan which was presented to Lisgar by LCol Plourde.[21]


Students have frequently placed highly in mathematics competitions. Lisgar students take part in the University of Waterloo contests, the Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge, the Canadian Math Olympiad, and the AMC 12. For instance, they have frequently placed in the top ten amongst Canadian Mathematical Olympiad Winners.[citation needed]

Students also take part in a lot of science contests. Lisgar offers the chance to take the University of Toronto Biology Exam (national competition), Avogadro Chemistry Contest, and Physics Contests. Many students have placed in the 90th percentile and above on these contests.

Lisgar has been the home of the Ottawa-Carleton Educational Space Simulation since 1990. The school is the only one in the region and one of the few in Canada to run such a program. Lisgar was also one of the original members of the now-defunct International Student Space Simulation.


Lisgar has a huge selection of ensembles to take part in. These include Junior Concert Band (Grade 9), Senior Concert Band (Grade 10), Wind Ensemble (Grade 11 and 12), Intermediate Orchestra, Senior Orchestra, String Ensemble, Choir, and Junior and Senior Jazz Bands. In total, there are 10 different groups. These groups take part in many music competitions, including Kiwanis, where Lisgar often took home gold, up until 2009 when École secondaire publique De La Salle started their unbeatable winning streak. Every year, there are two major performances given by all the ensembles, Winter and Spring Music Nights (in December and May). At these performances, students have the chance to demonstrate the skills they have achieved throughout the year to their parents and other spectators.


Lisgar has a large athletics department. Some of the sports Lisgar participates in include Rugby, Soccer, Hockey, Basketball, Rowing, Cross Country, and many others. Each year, tens of athletes are invited to city finals, and provincial finals in their respective sports, and each year, students bring home awards and medals.

Advanced Placement Courses[edit]

In 2006 parents camped in the Lisgar sports field to enroll a limited number of students from outside Lisgar's catchment in the school.

Lisgar Collegiate Institute offers many Advanced Placement courses. Apart from Advanced Placement Latin: Vergil and Advanced Placement Spanish, students taking AP courses take an advanced form of a regular course, which provides them with an Ontario Credit, as well as taking the AP exam in May.


Lisgar has a wide variety of clubs available to its students, ranging from Debate Club, to Biomedical Club, to Chess Club. However, the school's more notable clubs include Amnesty International [AI], Lisgar's Environmental Action Force (LEAF), Ottawa-Carleton Educational Space Simulation (Space Sim), and Kiwanis Educating Youth (KEY). Lisgar's Student Council consists of nine committees that oversee events throughout the school year, including the well-known Annual United Way Pancake Breakfast and the Canned Food Drive for the Ottawa Centretown Food Bank.

In 2006, the school's Reach for the Top team became the first Canadian team to participate in the NAQT High School National Championships, placing 25th. In 2008, the Lisgar Reach team became the first team to qualify for both the Canadian Reach for the Top finals and the NAQT High School National Championships in Chicago, placing second in Ontario for Reach and first in their qualifying division (Ottawa) for NAQT. Electing to attend the Reach Nationals in Edmonton, Lisgar came from behind to beat two-time champion University of Toronto Schools 420-415 for the national title. In 2010, Lisgar was able to qualify two teams for the NAQT Chicago tournament.

Lisgar's Improv Team, founded in 1997 and affectionately known as 'Jimmy', has a reputation for being of the highest calibre. Regular attendees of the National Festival of the Canadian Improv Games and National Champions in 1999 and 2000, Jimmy has been a pillar of the Ottawa Improv community for years.[22]

Notable alumni[edit]

Picture of Anchorman Peter Jennings age 16 from the 1955-1956 Lisgar Yearbook

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Ottawa-Carleton District School Board / Community Corner / School Programs". Retrieved 2010-06-23. 
  2. ^ "OC Transpo System Map" (PDF). OC Transpo. 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2011-12-25. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ Fraser Institute high school rankings 2008
  5. ^ Czekaj, Laura (2008-03-31). "Local school bumps up grade". Ottawa Sun. 
  6. ^ Reach For The Top National Champions 1998-2010
  7. ^ Canadian Improv Games
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Edgar Lewis Horwood
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "First World War plaque". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Canadian Department of National Defence. 2008-04-16. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  15. ^ "Lieutenant Alexis Hannum Helmer plaque". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Canadian Department of National Defence. 2008-04-16. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  16. ^ "Second World War plaque". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Canadian Department of National Defence. 2008-04-16. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  17. ^ "Victoria Cross plaque". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Canadian Department of National Defence. 2008-04-16. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  18. ^ "Korean War/Conflict plaque". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Canadian Department of National Defence. 2008-04-16. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "Sergeant Edward J.G. Holland, V.C.". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Canadian Department of National Defence. 2008-04-16. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  20. ^ "Pilot Officer David Francis Gaston Rouleau". National Defence Canada. 2008-04-16. Retrieved 22 May 2014. 
  21. ^ "Canadian Flag flown in Afghanistan". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Canadian Department of National Defence. 2008-04-16. Retrieved 20 May 2014. 
  22. ^ Ottawa Improv
  23. ^ Fay Beale obituary, Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 2011-01-07.
  24. ^ Leroux, Marc. "Lieutenant Alexis Hannum Helmer". Canadian Great War Project. Retrieved 2010-08-23. Lieut. Helmer was a close friend of Capt. John McCrae and was the inspiration for "In Flanders Fields". 
  25. ^ Canadian Women in Film, Collections Canada
  26. ^ Kennedy, Mark (1 December 2015). "Dominic LeBlanc is Trudeau's go-to guy. Here's why". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  27. ^ Hot List: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - Matthew Perry
  28. ^ "Tom Cruise Biography". Retrieved 2016-04-16. 
  • By Ottawa Collegiate Institute. Ex-pupils' (January 12, 2010), A History Of The Ottawa Collegiate Institute 1843-1903 By Ottawa Collegiate Institute. Ex-pupils', Ottawa, Ontario: BiblioLife This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923. 
  • By Lisgar Collegiate Centenary Committee (1943), Lisgar Collegiate Centenary: 1843-1943, Ottawa, Ontario: Lisgar Alumni Association, Lisgar Collegiate Institute (Ottawa, Ont.) 
  • By Lisgar Alumni Association' (1993), A History Of Lisgar Collegiate Institute, 1843-1993, Ottawa, Ontario: Lisgar Alumni Association, Lisgar Collegiate Institute (Ottawa, Ont.) 

External links[edit]