Selwyn House School

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Selwyn House School
95 chemin Côte St-Antoine
Westmount, Quebec, H3Y 2H8
School type Independent Boys
Motto Veritas (Latin for "Truth")
Founded 1908
School board QAIS
Headmaster Hal Hannaford
Grades K-11
Enrollment 570 (2006-07)
Language English
Colour(s) Black and Gold         
Mascot Gryphon
Team name Selwyn House Gryphons
Rivals Lower Canada College
Loyola High School

Selwyn House School (SHS) is a private independent boys' school located in Westmount, Quebec. Boys can attend from Kindergarten through to Grade 11. The school was founded in 1908 by Englishman Captain Algernon Lucas. It is named after Selwyn College, University of Cambridge, which Lucas attended.

Tuition fees for attending Selwyn as of the 2016-17 school year range from $17,850 to $23,200.[1]

The school's moto is Veritas: Be true to Yourself, Be true to others and Be true to your school. In 1999, the school underwent substantial renovations in its three main buildings on campus:Lucas, Macaulay and Argyle, in addition to the construction of a fourth building: Speirs.[2] All three are connected to one another by means of both underground and overground tunnels, ensuring protection against Montreal's harsh winters. A laptop program is in place ensuring that every student in Grades 7-11 has a portable computer for use in both school, where they are tightly integrated into the curriculum, and at home.

Students are divided into four houses, which serve intramural athletics purposes within the primary school. The houses, named after the first four headmasters of the school, are Lucas (red), Macaulay (yellow), Wanstall (green) and Speirs (blue).

The Selwyn House Gryphons have fielded strong athletic teams in recent decades[citation needed] and their traditional rivals in sports are Lower Canada College and Loyola High School.


In 1908, the English-speaking elite of Montreal were in need of a suitable preparatory school, and a certain Captain Algernon Lucas was seeking a career. A graduate of Selwyn College, Cambridge University, he was given the job of educating seven boys. He had immediate success, and within two years, Lucas School had to move from Lucas' Crescent Street apartment to a larger house on Mackay Street. In 1912, Lucas turned to the business world and Colin Macaulay, who had been a classmate of Lucas at Selwyn College, took his place at the helm.

The school quickly developed a character of its own, and relocated two more times. Its aim was to provide a solid grounding in basic subjects, and to equip boys for the boarding schools from which they would proceed to university. The School was modeled after English preparatory schools, and the staff was largely recruited from the United Kingdom. Under the distinguished leadership of Dr. Robert Spiers, headmaster from 1945 to 1971 and after whom the Spiers Medal is named, the reputation of the school grew significantly. The calibre of students from Selwyn House was highly respected at their subsequent schools and scholarships were won regularly.

In 1985, William Mitchell became the headmaster. The school's needs and demands for added facilities reached a point where one building was no longer sufficient. When St. Andrew's United Church across the street closed, Selwyn House purchased and renovated it, and it is now known as the Macaulay Building. In 2002, the school built the Speirs Building which housed a new double-sized gym, a spacious high-tech library, numerous classrooms, offices and an agora for student assemblies and various other functions. This was followed by a massive renovation of the original Lucas Building, including converting its gymnasium into a large, modern dining hall and fully equipped auditorium, dubbed Coristine Hall.

In September 2005, an alumnus of the school launched a lawsuit against Selwyn House claiming that he had been molested by a former teacher. Allegations regarding misconduct were made in 1991, and the school administration confronted the teacher. Soon after, he committed suicide along with his father, and no further action on the issue was taken by the school administration.[3]

Allegations that two other former teachers had also abused students were filed as part of a class action lawsuit on February 3, 2006.[4] The school agreed to a $5-M compensation fund in January 2009. The fund was approved by the Quebec Superior Court as a settlement for former students, their partners, and their parents.[5] The allegations that various teachers, none of whom were still present at the school, committed sexual abuse of over 30 minors during the 1970s to early 1980s.[5]

On May 10, 2008, another teacher, Richard Doucet, was arrested by John Chapman of the Dumfries Police in Virginia under the charges of soliciting underage sex from a 13-year-old boy and possessing child pornography, although the charges did not relate to any of his activities at the school.[6] In August 2009, Doucet was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of 14 years in Virginia prison.[7]

In January 2009, Hal Hannaford took over as the school's new headmaster. Mitchell, a member of the Bishop's University Sports Hall of Fame, retired after the school's hundredth year came to a close. Mr. Mitchell came out of retirement at the request of Bishop College school to become their interim Headmaster.[8] In the winter of 2010, Selwyn House completed renovations of the aging Macaulay Building. Other recent renovations include a black box theater and a media studio. There is now an athletic highlight wall on the main floor of athletic achievements dating back 100 years from the school's first century.

Recent athletic events[edit]

  • Bantam Football - 2002, 2006 (undefeated), 2007 (undefeated), 2009 (undefeated), 2012 GMAA champions.
  • Senior Football - 2003 FQSA "AA" champions.
  • Curling - 2006, 2010 GMAA champions.
  • Bantam Hockey - 2007, 2009 GMAA champions.
  • Juvenile Hockey - 1988, 1991, 1994 QASA Provincial Champions.
  • Wrestling - 2007 GMAA champions, dethroning Kahnawake Survival School who held the Championship for the previous 17 years, 2012 GMAA champions (undefeated).
  • Senior Rugby - 2011, 2012 GMAA Div. 1 champions

Charity and Fundraising[edit]

Selwyn House is heavily involved in fundraising, both for the school and the community. The school participates yearly in the Terry Fox Run, Shave to Save[9] and Movember.[10] The VIVO Fund,[11] created by Angelo Rizzolo, class of 2011, has helped the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Montreal Jewish General Hospital continue their work to save premature infants. Selwyn House financed the rebuilding of a local football field and was a major partner in the Westmount Recreation Center Arena and Pool Project.[12]

Notable people[edit]

Mentions in popular culture[edit]

  • The movie Prom Wars is based on Selwyn House. In the movie, Selby House battle Lancaster College (allegories for Selwyn House and Lower Canada College, respectively, historically "arch-rival" schools) over the right to take ACS (ECS) girls, the nearby girls school, to their respective proms.[13][14]
  • The school has been mentioned in Mordecai Richler's novel, Barney's Version.
  • The school is part of the basis for Richler's Jacob Two-Two adventure series. Richler's son Jacob was a student at Selwyn House.


  1. ^ "Tuition Fee Structure" (PDF). Retrieved 15 July 2016. 
  2. ^ JLP Architects Retrieved 9 January 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Selwyn House ignored sex-abuse claim for 20 years: documents". 2008-08-07. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  4. ^ "Quebec boys' school hit with legal bombshell". CTV Television Network. 2006. Retrieved 2008-01-28. 
  5. ^ a b "Selwyn House agrees to $5M fund for alleged sex-abuse victims". CBC News. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  6. ^ Branswell, Brenda (2008). "Teacher Held". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  7. ^ "Montreal teacher gets more jail time for sex crimes". CBC News. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2010-01-25. 
  8. ^ "Bishop's College School Headmaster". Bishop College School. 
  9. ^ "Selwyn House Shave to Save". Virgin Radio. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  10. ^ "Selwyn House Movember Team". Movember Canada. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  11. ^ "VIVO Fund Events". Vivo Fund. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  12. ^ "Westmount Arena and Pool". Westmount Examiner. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  13. ^ "Selwyn House School ~ Selwyn House coming to a theatre near you". Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  14. ^ "Layout 1" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-11-07. 

External links[edit]