Vancouver College

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Vancouver College
Vancouver College school logo.png
"Semper Fidelis"
Always Faithful
5400 Cartier Street
Vancouver, British Columbia, V6M 3A5
Coordinates 49°14′11″N 123°08′09″W / 49.2363°N 123.1359°W / 49.2363; -123.1359Coordinates: 49°14′11″N 123°08′09″W / 49.2363°N 123.1359°W / 49.2363; -123.1359
School type Independent
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Founded 1922
School board CISVA (Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese)
Superintendent Dan Moric
President John Nixon
Principal Johnny Bevacqua
Grades K-12 (boys only)
Enrollment 1060 (2015-2016)
Language English
Area Shaughnessy, Vancouver
Colour(s) Purple and Gold         
Mascot Fighting Finnegan
Team name Fighting Irish

Vancouver College (referred to informally as VC) is an independent university-preparatory Catholic school for boys located in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Founded in 1922, it is the only independent Catholic all-boys school in British Columbia. Despite the school's Catholic denomination, it is open to students of all religions.


The Early Years (1922-1939)[edit]

The history of Vancouver College began in 1906, when the rector of Holy Rosary Cathedral, Fr. John Welch, applied to the Congregation of Christian Brothers, then known as the Congregation of the Brothers of the Christian Schools of Ireland, to establish a school for boys in Vancouver. The application was turned down at this time and a further application in 1912 was also turned down. The reasons were not given, but applications of this sort were usually turned down due to a lack of available Brothers at that particular time.

Further applications were made by Archbishop Timothy Casey, then-Archbishop of Vancouver, to the Superior-General of the Christian Brothers, Br. Hennessey, and this request received a positive response. Four Christian Brothers, Jerome Lannon, Patrick Reid, Michael Murtagh, and John Keane, were missioned to Vancouver and began what was to be Vancouver College at the downtown site on Richards Street known as Rosary Hall. The first classes numbered 91 boys, and classes began in the fall of 1922. The first principal of the school was Br. Jerome Lannon.

Soon after, demands to increase the enrollment (and to find a better location for developing a school), brought about a building campaign among the Catholic population of Vancouver. As classes continued, a dynamic group of local laymen and clergy negotiated with the Canadian Pacific Railway to acquire the present site of the school. In 1925, sufficient funds were available to purchase the land, on a then-remote part of Vancouver, Shaughnessy Heights, and to build a school there, which was named Vancouver College. Two members of the group took possession of the land in 1922 under an agreement for sale, and held the lands in trust for the school. The original building is presently named Lannon Hall.

Vancouver College served the Catholic population of Vancouver and cut across the general Catholic population. Continued demand for more space to accommodate an increasing student population resulted in a further seeking of funds, and, in 1927, thanks to the generosity of James D. McCormack and his family, a substantial donation was given to the College for the purposes of erecting a new wing which would house classrooms and provide space for boarding students, since many communities in British Columbia did not have Catholic schools at that time. This wing was constructed and opened in 1927, and is presently named McCormack Hall.

With the two building wings in operation, the school population climbed to 300 students. A strong educational program was in evidence from the beginning, and the first graduating class, the class of 1927-28, experienced a 75% passing rate, which, under the British Examination system, was quite high. The first graduate of the school was James Powell "Jimmy" O'Hagan, for whom the current synthetic track and field are named.

As with other Christian Brothers' schools, the whole person was focused on. Numerous activities, centering on the arts, athletics, and human interest, were developed. The first school orchestra, under the direction of Professor Talbot, was formed and performed as early as 1924. In the area of drama, Shakespearian plays were the order of the day. These were performed at the Orpheum Theater. Activities such as Irish dancing, choral work, gymnastic displays, debating, and public speaking, were part of the extracurricular fabric of Vancouver College. As was traditional in Christian Brothers' schools, regular school liturgies, including First-Friday devotions, school confessions, and a yearly retreat program saw to the spiritual needs of the students. Religious education was an important element of the curriculum and the tradition of "Friday talks" by the religion teacher was upheld. The large number of vocations, particularly to the priesthood, from the ranks of Vancouver College's graduates, was indicative of the quality of religious education at the school.

Competitive sports were entered into almost immediately. The major sports at the beginning of VC's history were soccer and rugby. Basketball was a fledgling sport in the 1920s, and was not considered in the same vein that it is today. VC won its first soccer championship in 1924, and, in 1928, the Greater Vancouver Rugby Championship. Canadian-style football was introduced in 1929, and the school soon became a notable football power in the Vancouver Area.

The first basketball team appeared in 1928, coached by Br. Breen. Br. Breen's association with Vancouver College continued over his life and he spent many years teaching at Vancouver College, and, after retiring from teaching, was groundskeeper at the school.

As the school moved into the thirties, history would not smile as bountifully on Vancouver College as it did in the first years of its existence. The Great Depression took its toll on the enrollment, so much so that, at the height of the depression, the school's enrollment dropped below 200 students. Finances became a huge burden, and at this time the school was focused more on surviving this part of history than on expansion. The school survived the Depression, and one has to give great credit and respectful admiration to the administrators of the time, Br. Lannon and Br. Stirling, who withstood the rigors of the era.

It is interesting to note that, in the late thirties, football at VC went south of the border, as, for one reason or another, the schools and teams around the Lower Mainland would not schedule Vancouver College. Thus, football at VC became American football as opposed to Canadian football.

World War II saw an upsurge in the fortunes of Vancouver College. Br. Eamonn Walsh assumed the responsibility of Principal in 1939, and during this time he established a strong Cadet Corps in the school. VC soon became well known for its patriotic contribution to the war effort. Registration climbed back to respectable levels, and, by the end of the war, the school's enrolment and finances were back on track.

The Middle Years (1946-1977)[edit]

The Middle Years of Vancouver College began with something of a disaster. On December 5, 1946, a major fire destroyed the upper part of McCormack Hall, causing an estimated $50,000 in damages (roughly $1 million today). Boarders had to be housed out, and the generosity of the families who took in these students for an extended period of time is to be commended. Classes were minimally disrupted during this difficult time.

As to expansion, 1957 saw the opening of Mackin Hall, under the guiding hand of Br. J. C. Bates. This provided cafeteria space, classrooms, and, later, science room space, and was the gift of Mr. Henry Mackin to the school. Prior to the construction of Mackin Hall, the Alumni Gym, scheduled to be built in the mid-forties but postponed due to the fire, was built. It was greatly needed and was a focal point for many of the activities of the school. It was completed and used in 1951, and, with some adjustments, is the present school facility for gym sports.

The population of the school, now housing kindergarten to grade 12 students, rose to above 1000 during the Middle Years. With the rising school population came a much-felt need to improve the school's science facilities, so, in 1964, Nichol Hall was opened. Its name recognized the contributions of Msgr. Thomas Nichol to the school. Msgr. Nichol was, for years, the parish priest of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, and Chaplain of Vancouver College.

The arts took on a somewhat new look. Mr. Gordon Olson became Band Instructor in the mid-forties, and his efforts over the next forty years are a testimony to the success of the band program at Vancouver College. The drama and choral efforts of the students, present, but separate until 1969, were brought together in the form of Broadway Musicals which were presented each year in conjunction with Little Flower Academy. Performed at the Metro Theater, these were highly enjoyable and successful projects, and they continued until the early eighties.

Football and basketball assumed the spotlight as competitive sports, with many other sports present on the athletic menu, either competitively or as intramurals. Wrestling, track and field, soccer, and hockey were some sports which were part of the program. Vancouver College was still a force in football, with Greg Cabot and Cal Murphy among the coaches associated with Vancouver College in the fifties and sixties. In the area of basketball, VC won the inaugural BC Championship in 1947, and have won five more championships since.

During this time, Vancouver College wrestled to come to grips with a world-wide situation - that of a changing Catholic Church caught in the uncertainty of life after the Second Vatican Council. Br. Henry Bucher, then-Principal, initiated a very effective retreat program under the direction of Fr. Fred Neilson, hosting weekly and regular retreats and spiritual workshops which were well-attended and received by the senior students.

The Recent Years (1977-present)[edit]

Christian Brothers' Residence

The recent years began with Br. Michael Maher as Dean of Studies at VC prior to taking over the administrative role of Principal. During Brother Maher's tenure of office, the Junior and Senior Boarding facilities were closed and the area was renovated to its present conditions. The Brothers Residence, Walsh Residence, was opened, and plans were initiated which saw the opening of a new wing of Vancouver College in 1990, the Blessed Edmund Rice Hall.

The school population at this time was approximately 1000 students, with a large contingent of feeder-school applications each year. The school has provided a very competent academic program for its students, evidenced by the large number of graduates who attend universities and colleges upon graduation. In recent years, enhancement of this program has been evolving.

Of special note is the emergence of a very strong religious education and spirituality program incorporating the Encounter program, which was initiated during the tenure of Br. Ken Farrell. The administration of Vancouver College saw the formation of Vancouver College Limited as a corporate entity and the formation of a Board of Directors to oversee Vancouver College Limited. Vancouver College Foundation was formed in the mid-eighties with the purpose of fundraising in order to underwrite capital projects.

Blessed Edmund Rice Hall

Today's Vancouver College is home to 1,060 students with approximately 400 on the waiting list. It is continuously ranked as one of the top three academic schools in the province by the Fraser Institute. The Running Start Program with Corpus Christi College was introduced in 2006, offering University-level courses at Vancouver College.

The arts still flourish at Vancouver College with a variety of performances by Elementary, Middle, and Senior school students held throughout the year. Public speaking, Pro-life club, debate, and other clubs add to a repertoire of academic and non-academic options at Vancouver College. Athletics continue to have a prominent role, especially with traditional and spirit-engendering sports such as football and basketball. In light of the interests of the diverse student body, athletics have grown with recent additions or resurgence of sports programs such as rowing, tennis, badminton, volleyball, rugby, soccer, hockey, and golf.

Science and High Performance Wing[edit]

The Holler Family Science Centre

On November 2, 2007, Vancouver College officially opened the Holler Family Science Centre and the new South Gym. The facilities were blessed by The Most Rev. Raymond Roussin, SM, the former Archbishop of Vancouver. They consist of four brand-new science classrooms, a state-of-the-art "super" laboratory, a greenhouse, a brand-new gymnasium, and several offices and classrooms serving the school's curricular and extra-curricular interests.

On January 30, 2008, construction had finished on the school's High Performance Fitness Centre. The centre consists of two floors, the first being a cardiovascular training area, and the other serving as a weight-training facility. The Fitness Centre is attached directly to the new South Gym, serving as an athletic complex for the benefit of its students and staff. Following this, the Kucher Centre for the Performing Arts opened in December 2008, helping to expand the school's grounded traditions in the performing arts. The centre is a large underground theatre with complete audio visual systems.

On September 26, 2009, Vancouver College celebrated the Blessing and Rededication of O’Hagan Field, featuring an all weather synthetic field. Other enhancements to O'Hagan include a world class track and a new playground for Elementary students.

The new South Gym was named the Dave Hardy Gym after David G. Hardy, the first lay principal of the school. On November 6, 2015, Vancouver College celebrated the rededication and renaming of the Dave Hardy Gym to the Christian Brothers Gym.



The school competes in many sports, including:

O'Hagan Field - produced professional star athletes & where movies have been filmed.

Students are expected and encouraged to participate in these programs. The football and basketball programs consistently rank among the top teams in British Columbia, and the rowing teams also perform well in national competitions. VC's teams are known as the "Fighting Irish", a slogan used as a reflection of school pride.

For the Irish, the 2007-2008 season was full of astounding achievements. The VC badminton and track and field teams came first in the province, and the rugby team (despite being the first College team since 1928) won the Lower Mainland New Zealand Shield.

In 2010, head Coach Todd Bernett led the Fighting Irish Varsity football team to their first BC provincial title since 1994.


Vancouver College has many student clubs, including:

  • Art Club
  • Book Club
  • Business Executive Club
  • Chess Club
  • Debate Society
  • Graduation Committee
  • Junior Edmundians
  • Junior Environment Club
  • Lego Club
  • Math Club
  • Model United Nations
  • Peer Tutoring
  • Pro-Life Club
  • Reach for the Top
  • Robotics Club
  • Science Club (STRINGS)
  • Senior Edmundians
  • Senior Environment Club
  • Social Justice Club
  • Spanish Club
  • Student Council
  • The Annual "One World One Heart" Social Justice Conference (OWOH)
  • The Lettermen Society
  • The Voice Newspaper
  • VC Ambassadors
  • VC eSports
  • VC Power
  • VC Robotics
  • Yearbook Team
  • Yoga Club

Student clubs are, much of the time, solely organized and established based on student interest and support, therefore providing opportunities for student leadership. Despite this, all clubs are required to have a sponsor teacher.


Students observe two distinct dress codes: Summer dress code and Winter dress code. When Winter dress code is in effect, students are required to wear grey dress pants, long-sleeved white dress shirts, and a school tie. Students must always wear black Oxford-style shoes (except during the summer, where they may be substituted with sandals worn with socks.) In cases of inclement weather, students may choose to wear one of four school sweaters: The traditional winter sweater, the traditional Varsity Letterman sweater, the tradition Edmundian sweater, or the Student Council sweater. Students may also opt to wear the school Monogrammed Bomber jacket or the traditional Varsity Letterman jacket.

For Summer dress code, Vancouver College students may decide to wear the VC Fighting Irish Polo Shirt, along with the Fighting Irish beige coloured shorts. Students may wear different polo shirts as a status of which club or sport they belong to. Winter dress code can still be worn during the summer.

Along with this, students in Grade 12 are given custom sweaters, unique to their year, to identify themselves as graduating seniors. Through the school's uniform system, students are highly individualized through a variety of options that help distinguish them within the school's community.

The traditional Winter uniform is mandatory for formal ceremonies and presentations, and may be worn even if Summer dress code is in effect.



  1. ^ "History - Vancouver College". Retrieved 2015-10-21. 

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