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The Buildings

School Building History

Around the year 1841 secondary education was born in Guelph in a one-roomed framed building on the outskirts of town. In 1854 due to the construction of the Grand Trunk Railway the Guelph County Grammar School was too close to the railway tracks and the site, located on the west corner of Dublin and Kent Streets with the entrance on Waterloo Road, had become too noisy and dangerous for students. A new location was found. The second Guelph County Grammar School was built on four acres of land at the corner of Paisley and Arnold Streets, fronting on Paisley Street. On the same site, it was renamed the Guelph County High School in 1871, and again renamed the Guelph High School in 1874. On the same site, it was rebuilt and named the Guelph High School in 1879. The building that served students from 1854 to 1879 remained a two room school.


Archives GCVI 1963

In 1879 the school was enlarged by adding two classrooms, and a large assembly hall on the 2nd floor. The building was L shaped and included a tower at the outer corner and belfry. The Principals office was in the bell tower and above it was a room used as a library. There was no plumbing and it was heated by fireplaces. A pump provided drinking water. A double row of outdoor privies were built and used until 1906. In 1886 a gymnasium constructed of wood was built with monies being raised for the purpose by Col. Walter Clark, who held the position of Physical Instructor from 1880 to 1910. The wood structure served as an assembly hall, training area for the cadets, and later for physical education classes. It had a small stage at one end and apparatus such as high bar, traveling rings, Indian clubs and wooden dumbbells. Many years later the gym was remembered as having ice on the floor caused by the leaking radiators. In 1886 the building of the gymnasium qualified The Guelph High School to be called The Guelph Collegiate Institute. From 1888 to 1906 the exterior school structure remained unaltered, although overcrowding became a serious problem.
Gcvi1940 A new building at the cost of $450,000 was constructed in 1923. It was designated as The Guelph Collegiate-Vocational Institute, due to the new technical shops in the school. The new building featured a swimming pool in the basement ( 60′ long by 24′ wide). GCVI was one  of the first school’s in the province to have a swimming pool. There was an open auditorium in the center with a glass skylight in the roof and a surrounding balcony. A passage way was built in 1946 connecting the 1923 building with the original 1906 limestone structure. At the time of its construction GCVI was arguably the finest school building in Ontario. The pool was used until 1931 and was subsequently drained because of a leak that was never found. Incidentally, the pool was built over a creek and countless springs. The basement area was turned into a storage and cadet rifle range.


In 1959 the old limestone school building built in 1879 without the Bell Tower, plus the 1906 addition, was torn down. The seventy-four year old wooden gym was taken apart.

Business Wing 1962In various stages starting in 1960 the construction of a new cafeteria and gymnasium began. The construction continued with the new additions of a shop wing, commercial wing, another gymnasium and alterations for an enlarged office and administrative area. The additions were laid out to facilitate the traffic flow of students and allowed for a potential enrollment of 1,650 students at a cost of 1.6 million dollars.
Library History 001  


In 1969 the old swimming pool was converted to the library in the basement of the school and the Guidance Office moved into the former library on the main floor.

Library History 020  

1970 Photo of the newly renovated library.