St. Leo Catholic Elementary School, Mimico
|St. Leo Catholic School|
|165 Stanley Avenue
Etobicoke, Toronto, Ontario, M8V 1P1
St. Leo Catholic Elementary School is an elementary school in Toronto, Canada. It is operated by the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Recently the name of the school, originally St. Leo's Separate School, has been written as St. Leo Catholic School.
Established in 1926 on Pidgeon (now Stanley) Avenue, in the parish of St. Leo's (the oldest Catholic Church in Etobicoke), the school is the oldest existing Catholic School in Etobicoke; the older Highfield Catholic School on Etobicoke's border with Brampton having closed many years before St. Leo opened. For lack of funds, the original school building (still standing) was a copy of the older St. Patrick's Catholic Elementary School (demolished for Malton, now Pearson, airport) in what is now Brampton; technically St. Patrick's was the 'mother' parish of St. Leo's although early Catholics in Mimico preferred to attend church and school in Toronto or the local Etobicoke public school (now renamed the John English Junior Middle School). With the establishment of St. Leo elementary school, a Mimico Catholic School Board was also established for the one catholic school in Mimico. Originally St. Leo was served by the Sisters of St. Joseph who commuted, first from Toronto, later from their Etobicoke residence in Our Lady of Sorrows Parish (beside the early St. Joseph's Catholic Secondary School for Girls, Islington). The school grew in the interwar years despite the creation of new 'daughter' parishes and schools in New Toronto (St. Teresa's), Humber (St Mark's) and later, the Queensway (Holy Angels). The school sits on land donated by parishioners of St. Leo's parish who used the school for many events until the building of a parish hall in the 1960s, and was operated by taxes raised from Mimico Catholics by the Mimico School Board until it joined the Metropolitan Catholic School Board (now the Toronto Catholic District School Board) in 1967 when the Town of Mimico ceased to exist and the Sisters of St. Joseph were replaced by lay staff.
After the Second World War, the Town of Mimico experienced a large influx of Catholic (especially Italian) families which led to the construction of a second Catholic school (St. Louis) to serve the growing northern half of Mimico, as well as the construction of a new (larger) church on the site of Mimico's historic Post Office, next to St. Leo elementary school which was enlarged first in the 1960s with many additional classrooms and office space and again in the 1980s with the addition of a gymnasium. In more recent years many Catholics from eastern European nations have moved to Mimico and attended St. Leo school and although many attend 'ethnic' churches rather than the local St. Leo's church, the relationship between church and school remains especially strong. St. Leo used a uniform until the mid-1980s, one of the last catholic elementary schools in the Metropolitan Separate School Board to abandon it although in recent years speculation has grown about its reinstatement. One of the most celebrated former alumni of the school, hockey player Brendan Shanahan, has maintained a connection with his home town and school. The school has celebrated its 50th and 75th anniversaries while the local parish is celebrating its 100th.
Originally, graduating students from St. Leo attended the public Parkdale Collegiate Institute in Toronto until the local Mimico High School was established. After a campaign by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, a Catholic Secondary school for boys (Michael Power) and another for girls (St. Joseph's, Islington) were built in central Etobicoke which Catholics had to pay to attend until the introduction of full funding in the 1980s. With the introduction of full funding for Catholic Schools, many seriously underpopulated public schools were abandoned, some (including the Mimico High School near St. Leo) being offered to the Catholic school board. The former Kingsmill (Bishop Allen Academy) and Alderwood (Father John Redmond) Public schools were controversially chosen to be Catholic Secondary Schools rather than the former Mimico High School (now John English Junior Middle School) on the grounds that Mimico was not centrally located in southern Etobicoke. Today St. Leo is a feeder school for Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School which has relocated from Alderwood to St. Teresa Roman Catholic Parish in New Toronto.
- St. Leo's Roman Catholic Church, Mimico
- St. Louis Catholic Elementary School, Mimico
- Toronto Catholic District School Board
- Lakeshore Advertiser, 9th Sept., 1926
- 50th Anniversary St. Leo's School 1926 - 1976
- 75th Anniversary St. Leo's Parish 1909-1984
- Currell, Harvey (1967). "The Mimico Story", Corporation of the Town of Mimico, Mimico, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- Given, Robert (2007). "Etobicoke Remembered", Pro Familia Publishing, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. ISBN 978-1-896596-14-3