Selwyn House School

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Selwyn House School
95 chemin Côte St-Antoine

, ,
Coordinates45°29′10″N 73°35′50″W / 45.4862°N 73.5973°W / 45.4862; -73.5973
School typeIndependent Boys
MottoVeritas (Latin for "Truth") and “We Know Boys”
School boardQAIS
HeadmasterHal Hannaford
Enrollment570 (2006-07)
Colour(s)Black and Gold         
Team nameSelwyn House Gryphons
RivalsLower 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. The school is named in honour of Selwyn College, University of Cambridge, which Algernon Lucas attended.

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 (yellow), Macaulay (red), Wanstall (green) and Speirs (blue). The Selwyn House Gryphons have fielded strong athletic teams in recent decades[2] 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 1999, the school underwent substantial renovations in its three main buildings on campus. 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 January 2009, Hal Hannaford took over as the school's new headmaster. In Winter 2010, Selwyn House completed renovations of the aging Macaulay Building.


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 had been made in 1971, 1983, and again in 1991 when the school administration confronted the teacher. Soon after, the teacher killed his elderly father and then committed suicide.[3] As a result, no further action on the issue was taken by the school administration.[4]

Allegations that two other former teachers, including John Aimers, had also abused students were filed as part of a class action lawsuit on February 3, 2006.[5] 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.[6] 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.[6]

On May 10, 2008, another teacher was arrested by 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.[7] In August 2009, the teacher was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of 14 years in Virginia prison.[8]

Charity and fundraising[edit]

Selwyn House participates yearly in the Terry Fox Run, Shave to Save[9] and Movember.[10]

Notable people[edit]

Sons of the Molson family have attended the school during every decade of Selwyn House's existence.[11] Many members of the Bronfman family also attended the school.[12]

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.[15]
  • The school is part of the basis for Richler's Jacob Two-Two adventure series.[16] Richler's son Jacob was a student at Selwyn House.


  1. ^ "Tuition And Bursaries". Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Selwyn House ignored sex-abuse claim for 20 years: documents". 2008-08-07. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  4. ^ 'I don't want to live with the memory of this all my life'
  5. ^ "Quebec boys' school hit with legal bombshell". CTV Television Network. 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2008-01-28.
  6. ^ a b "Selwyn House agrees to $5M fund for alleged sex-abuse victims". CBC News. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  7. ^ Branswell, Brenda (2008). "Teacher Held". Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on 2008-05-10. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
  8. ^ "Montreal teacher gets more jail time for sex crimes". CBC News. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2010-01-25.
  9. ^ "Selwyn House Shave to Save". Virgin Radio. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Selwyn House Movember Team". Movember Canada. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  11. ^ Selwyn House Founding Families: the Molsons
  12. ^ School offers money to former students claiming abuse
  13. ^ "Selwyn House School ~ Selwyn House coming to a theatre near you". Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  14. ^ "Layout 1" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  15. ^ Selwyn House School - Westmount Private Day School
  16. ^ Selwyn House School - Westmount Private Day School

External links[edit]