St. Ignatius Parish first opened in 1908 in a small storefront on Osborne Street. Soon after, the church moved to its second site at the corner of McMillan and Nassau. By 1909 land was purchased at Stafford and Corydon, where the Parish still resides. Along with the church, the Parish committed to building a school and a rectory at this new site.
St. Ignatius School was promptly opened in a small building adjacent to the new church on Jan. 12, 1912. Nineteen children attended. The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary provided the teachers, who lived at St. Mary’s Academy and commuted down Stafford to St. Ignatius by horse and buggy.
1918 classroom shows growing student population.
Growth of our School
An addition was required in 1917 to accommodate growth at the school. By 1928, student enrolment reached 320. Two more classrooms were added to the school in 1952 and 1954, but by 1955 enrolment topped 600 and temporary classrooms had to be opened in the church basement. This called for an expansion, which included eight classrooms and a gymnasium.
The Fire of 2007
In 2007, the school survived an electrical fire that extensively damaged the oldest remaining wing which was originally constructed in the early 1950s. The damage was limited to that one wing and renovation began immediately. The school continued to operate, closing for only four days, as classes were moved and accommodated in other parts of the school. The rebuilding was completed in the fall of 2007. Our primary classes and the school office moved into the fresh, new spaces that they occupy today.
St. Ignatius School in 1956.
The school faced many financial challenges over the years, including the Depression and the Second World War, but education for children of the Parish remained a priority for the people of St. Ignatius Church.
In the 1970s, parishioners such as Frank Cvitkovitch pressured the Provincial Government to acknowledge its constitutional responsibilities towards separate schools, and secured a partial funding agreement, representing 50% of operating costs. The parish continued to pay the remaining 50% of operating costs and all of the capital (building) costs. In November 2015, the decision was made to adopt a tuition system. Beginning in September 2016, the school became financially independent of St. Ignatius Parish. However, the Parish remains committed to ensuring that all Parishioners have an opportunity to attend St. Ignatius School. A bursary program supports students who require financial assistance in order to attend the school.
The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary continued to teach and administer at the school for many decades, but eventually more and more lay teachers were added. The first lay principal, Ted Kowaliszyn, was hired in 1981. Since the early 1990s St. Ignatius has been fully staffed by lay teachers, but we continue to cherish the legacy of service left by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.