Senator O'Connor College School

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Senator O'Connor College School
SOCS Logo 1963.svg
Senator O'Connor College School.JPG
60 Rowena Drive
Toronto, Ontario, M3A 3R2
Coordinates 43°45′02″N 79°19′02″W / 43.750677°N 79.317303°W / 43.750677; -79.317303Coordinates: 43°45′02″N 79°19′02″W / 43.750677°N 79.317303°W / 43.750677; -79.317303
School type Catholic, High school
Motto Audax et Fidelis
(Courageous and Faithful)
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
(Brothers of the Christian Schools and Daughters of Wisdom)
Founded 1963
School board Toronto Catholic District School Board[1]
Superintendent John Shanahan
Area 6
Area trustee Angela Kennedy
Ward 11
School number 505 / 763772[2]
Principal Tracey Parish
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 1381 (2016-17)
Language English
Area North York, Ontario
Colour(s) Blue and Gold         
Team name O'Connor Blues
Parish Annunciation
Specialist High Skills Major Business
(awaiting approval from the board)
Program Focus French Immersion
Advanced Placement
Extended French

Senator O'Connor College School (also called SOCS, Senator O'Connor CS, Senator O'Connor, OCS, or simply Senator or O'Connor) is a Separate high school in the Parkwoods neighbourhood in the North York district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is named after Senator Frank O'Connor, founder of the Laura Secord chocolate company. The school is part of the Toronto Catholic District School Board[1] and was originally named as John J. Lynch High School. It has 1,381 students as of 2017,[2] and was ranked 272 of 676 secondary schools in the 2014-15 Fraser Institute School Report Card.[3]


The story[edit]

Frank Patrick O'Connor was a Canadian politician, businessman, philanthropist. He was the founder of Laura Secord Chocolates and Fanny Farmer, and the namesake behind O'Connor Drive in Toronto. He is the son of Mary Eleanor McKeown and Patrick O'Connor, O'Connor quit school at the age of 14 and started working at Canadian General Electric in Peterborough. He married Mary Ellen Hayes and moved with her to Toronto in 1912. He opened the Laura Secord Candy Store on Yonge Street in 1913 as he expanded the store across Canada and into the United States where it was known as Fanny Farmer Candy Stores.[4]

As a Roman Catholic, he gave $500,000 in the 1930s to the Archdiocese of Toronto under the trusteeship of Cardinal James Charles McGuigan.[4] O'Connor was appointed to the Senate of Canada in 1935 by Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. He represented the senatorial division of Scarborough Junction, Ontario until his death in 1939.[5] O'Connor survived his wife, who died in 1931, and died at this estate at age 54.[6]

The school history[edit]

The original Senator O'Connor campus building on 5 Avonwick Drive

Senator O'Connor College School was founded by the Brothers of the Christian Schools and the Daughters of Wisdom in 1963 as John J. Lynch High School, becoming the first co-educational Catholic school in the Toronto archdiocese. However, boys were taught by Christian Brothers and girls were taught on a different floor by nuns with the Daughters of Wisdom. By 1965, the school had been renamed Senator O’Connor and by the 1966–67 school year, boys and girls were taught in the same classrooms. By then, the ninth and tenth grades were placed by the Metropolitan Separate School Board (now the Toronto Catholic District School Board) while grades 11–13 continued to be taught by their religious orders. The high school was built on land given to them by Senator Frank Patrick O'Connor, a Catholic philanthropist and founder of Laura Secord Chocolates, a Canadian chocolatier and ice cream company.

Senator O'Connor's House and Garage, and another building, belonging to the Christian Brothers, still exist on campus, and the Christian Brothers still lived there up until 2000.

In the 1970s, the Christian Brothers were an active part of school life, teaching classes, holding positions in the school administration and assisting with cafeteria monitoring. The administration of the school was turned over to lay teachers in 1973.

The school used to be split up into three main structures: the main O'Connor building, the JJ Lynch building, and a later addition of a complex of portables under one roof called the "Taj" or the "Taj Mahal". There was also another area with over a half dozen portables. There used to be an indoor swimming pool connected to the house, but it was torn down sometime in the late 1980s or early 90s. The Christian Brothers' house was located in the center of the campus, and so students would pass right in front of it or around it on all sides daily.

The Christian Brothers' house has been marked as a historic site by the City of Toronto and is protected as such.

In 1984, when the Province of Ontario decided that Catholic secondary schools were to be fully funded, the school became publicly funded by 1987, and Senator O'Connor ceased being a private school. The school is fully operated by the MSSB. The last of the Christian Brothers staff to teach at O'Connor retired at the end of June 1990.

Originally the main high school was built to hold 732 students and by the 1990s the student population almost doubled that figure. Additions to the school such as the "Taj" were made over the course of the school's history. By 1995, talks of building a new school on the property began. That project was protested by local residents until its approval sometime in the early 2000s. The old buildings were torn down and a large new modern two-storey 1020-pupil high school which opened in September 2005 is now in place.

The former address of the school was 5 Avonwick Gate. The current address of the new Senator O'Connor College School is 60 Rowena Drive. The address change occurred because the entrance to the school was moved to the opposite end of the property that opens onto Rowena Drive. The new building, designed by Kearns Mancini Architects Inc., was partially built where the Lynch building previously stood as well as on the old athletic field.

Senator O'Connor celebrated its 50th anniversary on June 1, 2013, with a mass and the opening ceremonies, including a special presentation to Brother Domenic Viggiani, president of De La Salle College, who accepted plaques on behalf of the school’s founding Christian Brothers, some of whom also attended the event.[7] The events included an alumni basketball game, arts presentations, live music, decade rooms, the sale of past yearbooks, food and refreshments in the afternoon and an alumni show, after party in the evening. The guests took a sneak peek of the restoration of the historic O’Connor House, which was severely damaged in a fire a year prior.[8]


  • 1963 - John J. Lynch High School opened its doors on 5 Avonwick Gate by the Brothers of the Christian Schools and the Daughters of Wisdom
  • 1965 - The school was renamed from John J. Lynch to Senator O'Connor.
  • 1966 - The boys and girls of O'Connor were taught in the same classrooms.
  • 1967 - Grades 9 and 10 placed by the Metropolitan Separate School Board.
  • 1973 - Lay teachers take over the school's operations.
  • 1984 - Full funding for Catholic high schools announced by the Ontario Government for grades 11-13.
  • 1987 - Senator O'Connor became a fully publicly funded high school.
  • 1990 - One of the last of religious staff retired from O'Connor.
  • 2000 - The Christian Brothers depart the O'Connor House.
  • 2002 - The Senator O'Connor alumni association opens[9]
  • 2005 - New school facility for O'Connor opened at 60 Rowena Drive.
  • 2007 - The Specialist High Skills Major program, Business begins.
  • 2013 - Senator O'Connor celebrated its 50th anniversary.


Advanced Placement[edit]

The Advanced Placement program continues a tradition of achievement, by providing students with the opportunity for academic enrichment. At Senator O’Connor, a select cohort of students studies at the AP (Enriched) level in Core Courses from the 9th through 12th grades. Students enter this program through an application process undertaken in Grade 8. Students in AP courses study topics in greater depth, enhancing their intellectual development. A flexible program, it can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual; students have the opportunity to participate in specific AP subjects in their fields of interest. Students are exposed to university level content and expectations, allowing them to feel more comfortable and have more confidence once they reach the academic setting of university. Writing AP College Board exams at the end of Grade 12 can lead to the acquisition of equivalent credits in participating universities in Canada, the United States and overseas.

Extended/Immersion French[edit]

The Extended/Immersion French program is a continuation of the elementary early or middle French Immersion program. Students who have successfully completed a minimum of ten French courses, four in Extended/Immersion French and six in other subjects taught in French (géographie, histoire and religion) will receive an Extended/Immersion French Certificate upon graduation.

O'Connor students are encouraged to take advantage of outside activities, competitions and foreign exchanges. A fun-filled trip to Quebec provides opportunity to practice their French Language skills.



Principal Previous School Date started Date finished Notes
Brother Denis 1963 1973 Founding Principal of JJ Lynch High School, boys section.
Mother Cyril 1963 1965 Founding Principal of JJ Lynch High School, girls section.
Brother George Edwards 1963 1965 Founding Principal of Senator O'Connor College School
Tom King 1973 1982 Transferred to Cardinal Newman in 1982.
Patrick Gravelle 1982 1989
John Dean 1989 1991
Stan Kutz 1992 1997
John Dean 1997 2000 Second stint
Carmine Settino Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School 2001 2005 Currently Principal at Chaminade College School
Susan Baker 2005 2013 Spent most of years as English and phys ed teacher. Became principal of the newly built school in 2005, retired after 8 long years.[7] Also named one of Canada’s Outstanding Principals by The Learning Partnership.[10]
Michael O'Keefe
2009 2010 Served principal for a month
Paul McAlpine Francis Libermann Catholic High School
St. John Paul II Catholic Secondary School
2013 2015
Tracey Parish Francis Libermann Catholic High School
St. Patrick Catholic Secondary School
Alternative Pupil Placement for Limited Expelled Students
2015 present

Vice Principals[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]