During the fall and winter seasons I had the opportunity to visit other private schools for sports events. While at these schools I gained a whole new appreciation of De La Salle College ‘Oaklands’. I realized how special De La Salle is, unspoiled by the modern world, loyal to tradition, comfortable, welcoming, down to earth, and similar to a self-contained village.
The first difference I noticed was that many of the other schools are large and modern. The largeness is expensive and the work that has gone into refining the gyms, and other spaces, is incredible. One school I visited was gigantic, with a cafeteria the size of a football field. In other schools, the walkways and halls are miles long, twisting and turning, with different levels, eventually taking you to your destination.
After each visit to another school, I realized how warm and comfortable De La Salle feels. Even though we have had the dreariest winter ever, it seems that when I walk into De La Salle, the winter disappears. Environment impacts our moods and ability to function in our roles. An environment that offers comfort is one where there will be happy and secure individuals. When I look around at students in the halls, the cafeteria, and other areas of the school, I see students who appear comfortable and joyful.
De La Salle feels like a small town. In the small town you are greeted everywhere you go, you know everyone and you never feel alone. Rather than a large expanse of a city, Del prides itself on the look of an old-fashioned school, including the elegant Heritage House, and a park in the center where the children can play. Everyone has a role in the small town and they take pride in their role. The school is represented by President and Christian Brother, Domenic, who believes in tradition, spiritually and academic excellence. Students and staff are encouraged to practice Lasallian principles and to follow the virtues of the Catholic Church. Del’s arena represents the very Canadian love of hockey! The ‘Del Village’ is a safe and beautiful spot embracing the spirit of the good old days.
In 1837, the Christian Brothers arrived in Montreal to establish a community in North America. The De la Salle community was brought to Toronto in 1851, at the request of Bishop De Charbonnel. A grammar school was established at the corner of Lombard and Jarvis Streets. In 1871, De la Salle Institute extended to include secondary classes and was relocated to what was then the Bank of Upper Canada. The building still stands at the corner of Adelaide and George Streets with the inscription ‘De la Salle Institute Erected A.D. 1871'. In 1931, Brother Alfred opened the school on Avenue Road hill to 270 students at a tuition cost of $5.00 per month. De la Salle College ‘Oaklands’ at Avenue Road officially opened in 1950. The good intentions of the Christian Brothers and their interesting history of which I have only touched upon, has formed a unique foundation within De La Salle College, that continues to be respected and embraced by our students, parents, and others who hope to be a part of it.
The educational and spiritual model for De La Salle College has remained unchanged since 1950, except that the school is now coeducational, has a developed curriculum with the Catholic Board and has a larger student body and faculty. De La Salle is successful because it is a safe haven with a culture that some of us are lucky enough to embrace. The charm and quiet strength of De La Salle shines brightly in triumph against the modern issues that plague our society.
Sometimes we do not appreciate our environment and how our environment keeps us motivated, gives us security and strength, allows us to be the best we can be, and gives us a community to care about. The quaint and lovely village of Del La Salle College ‘Oaklands’ is truly a hidden gem in the city of Toronto.