In an institution as long-standing at De La Salle in Toronto, there are moments of particular significance that arise every so often. The arrival of the first “Freres” form Montreal in 1851 to the new City of Toronto and the establishment of a small academy the very same year is naturally of major importance. Already in the Province of Quebec for some twenty years, the Lasallian mission would grow too in English-speaking Canada.
Those of you familiar with the George Brown campus at Adelaide and Jarvis may have noticed two impressive buildings at the corner of Adelaide and George, in the heart of the oldest section of the City. The former Bank Upper Canada and the City Post Office buildings, housed De La Salle Institute from 1871 until the late 1920s. There is a heritage plaque to this effect on the buildings.
In 1931, the Brothers consolidated a couple of temporary locations to open the new De La Salle College “Oaklands” here on the brim of the Avenue Road Hill. Mostly for boarders, the school grew quickly to accommodate day students. The growing population of the school and its excellent reputation required the construction of a new building that was dedicated in 1949. The confederation year festivities for Canada in 1967 saw the construction of the school arena, a fixture of sorts in the City of Toronto.
The current De La Salle Centre was first opened in 1988 to provide retreat opportunities for Catholic youth in the Archdiocese. Once this program was discontinued, the College moved its classes and some offices into this building.
In 1993, a committee of Brothers, alumni and teachers was struck to consider the feasibility of the school operating again as an independent school after some years under the auspices of the Toronto Catholic District School Board. This school year 2018–2019, we acknowledge twenty-five years since this bold and brave decision was made. Although the first few years saw a number of challenges and growing-pains, the Catholic community quickly and loyally embraced this new venture of the Brothers in Toronto. We have much to be thankful for and are grateful for the tremendous support received over these years.
I am absolutely convinced of the need for a genuine Catholic education of excellence in the Lasallian tradition. The evangelisation and education of the young has never been more necessary as we try as believers to enliven the message of the Gospel into the hearts and minds of today’s generation.
On behalf of all those involved in the privatisation of the College; those who have worked so hard to ensure its survival, and those here today who commit themselves to the Lasallian mission, I offer my most profound gratitude. Thank you to alums, board members, parents, staff – past and present – and our current students. I am confident that if we truly work towards the building of the Kingdom of God, the Almighty will continue to bless this school for many years to come. Over the next year, there will be opportunities to come together to celebrate our accomplishments and recommit ourselves to this work, again with boldness and courage. If we all do our part, the future is ours.
Live Jesus, in our hearts. Forever.
Brother Domenic, fsc