TIMELINE HISTORY OF BREBEUF COLLEGE SCHOOL
by Michael Da Costa '92
- Construction of Brebeuf High School and the attached Jesuit Residence is overseen by Bishop Marrocco and Father Clement Crusoe S.J., in Willowdale, a new Toronto suburb surrounded by farms.
-The Jesuits of Upper Canada open Brebeuf High School to Grades 9 and 10, under the patronage of St. Jean de Brebeuf S.J., priest, missionary, and martyr.
- The staff consists of eight Jesuit priests, one Jesuit brother, and six laymen.
- The first Principal is Father Robert Meagher S.J., former Principal of Regiopolis College in Kingston. Mr. O’Neil P. Gazeley is Vice-Principal and the first lay Vice-Principal of any Jesuit school worldwide.
- The uniform is a brown blazer and grey dress pants and a striped tie.
- The “first” First Friday Mass in Honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus takes place, beginning an unbroken tradition.
- The B newspaper begins weekly circulation.
- JUGS (detentions) begin after school and on Saturdays.
- The first President of the Brebeuf Student Council is Neil Enright, who begins a long tradition of student leadership in the school.
- The entire Brebeuf staff and student body make a pilgrimage to Martyrs’ Shrine and Ste.Marie-among-the-Hurons in Midland, where St. Jean de Brebeuf lived and worked.
- The illustrious careers of rookie teachers E.J. (James) Barry, Tom Sullivan, and Lou Puccini begin.
- Archbishop Philip Pocock presides over the Solemn Blessing of the building on January 5th in front of a large crowd in the gymnasium.
- The Brebeuf Ladies’ Guild is founded and quickly becomes a pillar of support for the Brebeuf community.
- Theatre Brebeuf beings its tradition of entertaining audiences and presents Career Angel.
- The Brebeuf Junior Basketball Redmen win the school’s first TDCAA pennant.
- Yvonne Kirby, sister of Michael Daoust ’67, becomes the first female teacher.
- Beginning of the annual Brebeuf- Loyola weekends, sending our hockey, basketball and debating teams to Loyola in Montreal, and the next year, they would come to Brebeuf .
- The school’s name is officially changed to Brebeuf College School.
- The first class of Grade 13’s graduates from the school, including Mr. Michael Daoust '67.
- The first Echon yearbook begins chronicling the life of the school in photos."Echon" was the name the Hurons gave to Brebeuf, meaning "he who carries the heavy load".
- Grades 9 and 10 receive full funding through the Metropolitan Separate School Board. The school is now semi-private and students continue to pay fees of about $300 for Grades 11,12 and 13.
- Brebeuf begins offering courses in instrumental music.
- St. Agnes Catholic School opens adjacent to the Brebeuf property.
- Triple Bronze poetry anthology is born.
- Father Clement Crusoe S.J. becomes the second Principal.
- Mr. Michael Daoust ’67 becomes the first alumnus to teach at Brebeuf and is followed the next year by Robert Lato ’68.
- Initiation of Grade 13 Monday Night floor hockey.
- Father Kenneth Casey S.J. becomes the third Principal
- Regis College (Willowdale) is sold and relocated to downtown Toronto.
- Ailix Will becomes the first permanent woman teacher on staff.
- Brebeuf Junior Hockey Redmen capture the TDCAA championship under coach E.J. Barry.
- Father J. Winston Rye S.J. becomes the fourth Principal.
- The Brebeuf Music Department travels to Rome, where they meet the Pope.
- The Nation intramural system begins and school is divided into: Raiders, Rockies, Golden Hawks, Red Knights, Blue Devils, and Marauders.
- The Brebeuf Alumni Association is formally established by Greg Rogers ’72 and led by Chairman Frank MacGrath ’82; it quickly becomes an important ally in helping the school to fulfil its mission of excellence and service.
- The Society of Jesus announces it will withdraw from Brebeuf due to a lack of available manpower.
- Cardinal Carter and the Archdiocese of Toronto announce that the Presentation Brothers in Montreal will take over the direction of Brebeuf in September, 1984. Brother Lawrence Maher FPM moves into the Jesuit Residence to begin preparations for the handover to the Presentation Brothers.
- The last year Brebeuf has a football team, and henceforth rugby becomes the dominant sport.
- The class for disabled students opens with many student volunteers.
- Brother Lawrence Maher becomes the fifth Principal. The Presentation Brothers move into the Residence. Father Robert Brennan SJ remains as a Jesuit on staff as chaplain.
- Can-Aid, Brebeuf’s annual Christmas canned food drive for the homeless, is started by Greg Rogers et al.
- After a century and a half of waiting, Premier Bill Davis announces full funding for Grades 11, 12, and 13 in private Catholic schools. Brebeuf students will no longer have to pay tuition and the enrolment will begin to climb steadily.
- The uniform for Grade 9 is changed to a black blazer; grey pants; red, white and black striped tie; and black dress shoes. The old brown uniform is phased out.
- The overcrowded Cafeteria is expanded when Brother Maher miraculously secures Federal government funding.
- A new Chapel is built to replace “Room 110”, which becomes a computer lab. The Main Office is expanded.
- The Archdiocese of Toronto, which owns the Brebeuf property, attempts to sell the front field for a housing development, but changes its mind after fierce opposition from the Brebeuf community. The school land is then transferred to the MSSB, except for the Brothers’ Residence and adjacent property.
- The Ladies' Guild procures the Statue of St. Jean de Brebeuf for the school’s front entrance.
- Father Brennan S.J., the last Jesuit to teach at Brebeuf, leaves for Loyola.
- The last graduating class under Brebeuf as a semi-private school.
- A “portapak” – portables joined by a hallway – is erected in the parking lot and most Grade 9 classes are conducted there.
- The school celebrates its 25th Anniversary.
- The Ladies’ Guild disbands and is replaced by a Parent-Teacher Association.
- Brother Jerome Kelly F.P.M., Superior General of the Presentation Brothers, visits Brebeuf and inspires students and staff to start B.R.I.D.G.E. (Bringing Relief in Doing and Giving the Elderly), a programme where students visit and assist neighbourhood seniors.
- The present brick sign on the front field is completed.
- The first of many outdoor Masses behind the gym takes places, allowing the entire student body to be together.
- The Brebeuf badminton teams begin their domination of the sport at TDCAA and OFSAA levels.
- The school schedule changes from nine, 40-minutes periods to four 76-minute periods every other day.
- JUGS cease to be the standard punishment for students.
- Brebeuf becomes the first school in the board to begin an annual Orientation Camp for Grade 9 students at Camp Olympia, led by Greg Rogers.
- Mr. Neil Gazeley retires as Vice-Principal after 28 years of service and leadership.
- The pathway to Connacher is sold.
- Brebeuf’s population peeks at almost 1250 students.
- Brebeuf begins offering a General-level course.
- Co-operative Education is introduced.
- Brother Lawrence Maher F.P.M. retires, but dies suddenly in December. His funeral at Blessed Trinity draws more than 800 people.
- Mr. Joseph Brisbois becomes the sixth Principal and the first layman to hold the position.
- Brother Henry Spencer FPM retires from teaching, but remains an active volunteer in the school’s Chaplaincy programme.
- Brebeuf begins operating on the Semester system.
- Golf shirts become part of the uniform during the warmer months.
- The Blessed Edmund Rice Society is established, in honour of the Presentation Brothers’ Founder, recognizing students who are on the Honour Roll for all their years in high school.
- The blazer becomes an optional uniform item with the introduction of the school sweater.
- The MSSB announces the Brebeuf building will be replaced with a $23 million facility.
- Michael Pautler ’76, becomes the seventh Principal and the first alumnus to lead the school community.
- The school marks the closing of the old building with a special assembly and the Alumni Association holds a final Reunion in the original school.
- Construction of a new Brebeuf building commences and the school is temporarily relocated to the former Bathurst Heights Collegiate.
- A timecapsule from 1963 is found behind the original school’s cornerstone.
- Awards for the highest average in each grade are established and named for the four Jesuit Principals (Meagher, Casey, Crusoe, and Rye).
- Pope John Paul II visits Toronto and many Brebeuf students are involved in World Youth Day.
- The annual Grade 9 Midland trip commences.
- Brebeuf begins offering courses at the Enriched level, leading to preparation for Advanced Placement Examinations.
- The student body votes to change the name of its sports teams from Redmen to the Brebeuf Bulls.
- The “double-cohort” of Grades 12 and 13 (OAC) graduate, and with them the final Grade 13 class at Brebeuf.
- Exactly forty years from the date of the original school’s Solemn Blessing, staff and students return to 211 Steeles Avenue East and begin classes in the new Brebeuf building.
- Father Winston Rye S.J. celebrates the first Mass in the school’s Chapel on the First Friday of February.
- Brebeuf has an Open House of the New Building for Alumni and friends. The Upper Field is dedicated as the Larry Uteck '71 Memorial Field. The Wall of Honour is unveiled to recognize donors who have collectively given over $200,000 to the Reaching New Heights fundraising campaign.
- Mr. Nick D’Avella is appointed the eighth Principal.
- The Solemn Blessing of the New Building is conducted by Bishop Attila Mikloshazy SJ and the Mass is concelebrated by Fathers Rye and Granville SJ.
- The Library is renamed the Jesuit Commemorative Library to honour our school’s founding order and the continuing links with the Jesuits.
- The Chaplaincy Centre is named after the Presentation Brothers and opened by Brother Andrew Hickey FPM, Superior General.
- Brebeuf News Network, a closed-circuit television system, is born thanks to funding from the Alumni.
- The Alumni Athletic Centre opens after a large donation from the Brebeuf Alumni.
- The school population reaches its capacity of 1050.
- The Blessed Edmund Rice Volunteer Award programme is inaugurated.
- The Jesuit Kairos Retreat Programme is started.
- The Presentation Brothers celebrate 25 years of association with the school and 100 years in Canada.
- The story of excellence, faith, camaraderie, service, and academics continues unabated.
by Michael Daoust '67
I've never considered myself to be a very nostalgic person but this weekend's celebrations have given me time to reflect on the past 40 years at Brebeuf.
My associaton with Brebeuf goes back a few months before it opened in September of 1963 because back in those days Brebeuf was a private school and prospective candidates for the new school were interviewed in advance.
And so let me take you back to a Saturday morning in May of that year when my Dad and I went to St. ?
Naively I asked, "What does Brebeuf have to offer me ? "
How little did I know that Brebeuf would offer me and so many thousands of other young men the opportunity to learn in a Catholic environment surrounded by teachers dedicated to maximizing the potential of every student.
Of course , for me and a handful of others , Brebeuf has also meant a teaching career in a school that has become a way of life
The story of Brebeuf College was and continues to be one of academic excellence. The Jesuits Fathers of the early Brebeuf were wonderful teachers and along with a young and talented lay staff led by vice-principal Mr. Neil Gazeley, they skillfully shaped us into well-rounded students. Classes in Latin and Greek were part of a strong academic programme.
A highlight of those early years was an annual trip to Martyr's Shrine in Midland to visit the resting place of our patron St. Jean de Brebeuf. Our hockey, basketball, and debating teams also made trips to Montreal for some friendly competition against Loyola High School. Theatre Brebeuf was born in 1966 thanks to the creativity of Jim Barry. Brebeuf very quickly became a vibrant school community with everything from a school newspaper to an intramural tackle football league.
Some of my personal memories as a student include walking through open muddy fields east of the school to get to class on time, being fascinated by Tom Sullivan as every day he took us to a different part of the world in his geography class, being amazed as I watched Jim Barry standing on top of his desk to teach us Hamlet . I also remember living in fear that Father Beaudois would ask me a question in chemistry class. I recall just having fun and learning lots of math with Lou Puccini, the man who inspired me to become a teacher. Other memories include brown blazers, shared science classes with St Joe's girls, departmental exams, Pere Toppings' French class, and Saturday morning JUGS (detentions).
If the sixties were about academics, then the seventies were about sports at Brebeuf. In 1972, Brebeuf hired a tall skinny guy named Jim Hill and together with Joe Will, they forged outstanding football and basketball programmes at the school. Noisy pep rallies often preceded football games against arch rival St. Mike's and packed gymnasiums roared their approval with every home side basket by one of the Hubbard boys. And let's not forget our championship hockey team of the seventies as well as Jamie Stafford's long distance running and Frank Nutzenberger's gymnastics. The seventies also saw a band trip to Rome, lots of Brebeuf dances and of course winter carnival days when we played broomball on our outdoor skating rink.
The Jesuit tenure at the school came to an end in 1984. The Presentation Brothers led by Brother Lawrence Maher took over and brought with them a new perspective. If it can be said that the Jesuit Fathers taught us how to think with our minds , then the Brothers taught us how to love with our hearts.
In 1987, Brother Maher invited Brother Jerome Kelly, the Superior General of the Brothers, to come from Ireland to speak to both the Staff and students at Brebeuf. Brother Jerome challenged us to replace our trophies with our compassion, to replace our spirit of competition with a spirit of generosity. A few months later, BRIDGE (Bringing Relief in Doing and Giving to the Elderly ) was launched as scores of students and Staff took to the streets of Toronto to beg for money to fund the project. I'll never forget standing at the corner of Yonge and Dundas with a group of students, tins cups in hand, asking pedestrians to make a donation. What a humbling experience it was but from it came yard work and renovations for seniors , visits to nursing homes, young men caring for others in their community. Les donnes came into being along with Can-Aid and VICS. Brother Maher's spirit of generosity came alive in the Brebeuf family.
The eighties were also the golden era of Grade 13 Floor Hockey as Monday nights at Brebeuf took on a very special meaning. Jim Hill used to kid that floor hockey wasn't a real sport. But on Tuesday mornings, those bruises on my legs certainly real and so were the friendships that formed between students as they tried, usually in vain, to beat the Staff team. Staff-student softball games on the lower field were a sure sign of spring back in those days and the Staff infield of Hill at first, Barry at second, Lato at short and Will at third was a thing of beauty. And who could forget the outfield of Hollie Doyle in centre flanked by Mike Strimas in left and Father Toppings or Father Trainor in right. Yes, they were great times.
With help of Frank MacGrath and John Warecki, The Nation System was born in 1980, an intramural program which involved hundreds of students having fun on short order Tuesdays, a system which re-emerged this year under the direction of Alex Sabatini.
Brebeuf came of age in the eighties with the inception of our Alumni Association. The face of Brebeuf also began to change as Ailix Will was joined by a growing number of female teachers.
The nineties were a time of rapid growth at Brebeuf. With almost 1200 students by 1992, there were more students in portables than ever before. It was a decade when rugby was king, when school plays were spectacular, and when our math teams began dominating the Toronto Catholic Board. It was a time of badminton championships, semestering, Camp Olympia, the new curriculum , golf shirts and plans for a new school.
It was also a time of transition with the first of many Staff retirements, the appointment of our first lay principal, Joe Brisbois in 1997, and of course our exodus to Bathurst Heights.
And now we've finally made it back to a new school complete with new technology , new Staff , and new possibilties.
As I look back over forty years, I realize what a privilege it ha been to teach and work along side of so many fine men and women.
Brebeuf has been blessed with the vision of Bob Meagher, the wisdom of Neil Gazeley, the gentleness of Father Crusoe, the faith of Father Casey, the dedication of Father Rye and Brother Spencer, the generosity of Brother Maher , the caring of Father Toppings, the warmth of Father Trainor, the optimism of Tom Sullivan and Peter Lee, the karate chop of Don Clattenburg, the charisma of Father Beaudois, the passion of Jim Barry, the leadership of Joe Will and Lou Puccini , the slapshot of Greg Rogers, the compassion of Bob Lato, the professionalism of Hollie Doyle and Dan DiRocco , the loyalty of Frank MacGrath and Jim Morris ,the integrity of Stan Kosior and Mike McSharry, the humble service of Tony Tersigni and Leo Cornacchia , the courage of Paul Adams.
I know this list could go on. In fact, over 250 men and women, including my older sister, have taught at Brebeuf , each person weaving his or her own unique thread into the Brebeuf tapestry.
In closing, I would like to add one final thought.
It is true that the roots for Brebeuf College go back to 1963. But the real roots of this school go back some 400 years to the person of our patron St. Jean de Brebeuf. Brebeuf was a man of courage , a man of faith , a man for others. Ekon has been here to share in our good times and to help carry some of the load in the difficult times. As a result of his intercession and his patronage , Brebeuf College is indeed a school with a difference, a school that I am so very proud to be a small part of .