Our School History

Original Grammar School
Saint John Grammar School

On March 5, 1805, the New Brunswick Legislature passed, "An Act for encouraging and extending literature in the province." The passage of this act led to the creation of The Saint John Grammar School to meet the needs of a "... proper and adequate educational institute" (SJHS) for boys. On March 19, 1805 Common Council granted £100 towards the creation of a school building on Germain St. on land purchased from Mr. Thomas Horsfield. In 1819 Dr. Patterson started his fifty-one year reign as principal of the Grammar School.

"The Commons Schools Act" of 1871 led to the Grammar School coming under the supervision of the School Board and the creation of the Girls' High School. By 1874 the closing exercises of the Grammar School and the Girls' High School were a joint venture.

Victoria Girls School
Victoria Girls School

In 1876 the Victoria Building was opened as the girls' high school. Unfortunately a year later the Great Fire destroyed both this new school and the "... ancient looking wooden building on the corner of Germain and Horsfield.(SJHS) A new Victoria School for girls was opened in 1878 but the Grammar School was located in a variety of buildings until a new high school building was erected on Union St. for both boys and girls. It opened as Saint John High School in 1897. Even though the students were housed in the same building, segregation of the sexes was an entrenched idea. Few students experienced academic instruction from members of the opposite sex. A few activities however, such as the school orchestra created in Union Street location
Saint John High School on Union Street
1898, were co-educational. This building served the students of SJHS until the 1930s when academic demands and curricular innovations necessitated the building of a new school.

Our current facility, designed by the architect Herbert Stanley Brenan, opened in 1932 with over 1100 students. Segregation of the sexes continued as a tradition, with the boys using the Duke Street entrance and the girls the Canterbury St. one. It was not until Dr. A. T. G. Harrison's tenure that classes became co-ed.

Two additions have been made to this building since its opening. The "New Wing" added in 1964 houses the science labs, a double gymnasium and a swimming pool. In 1986 the school experienced major renovations updating its electrical needs, outfitting it with new windows, creating new computer labs and adding an enlarged modern library.

Throughout its almost two hundred year old history, numerous traditions have been established. The school colours, originally brown and blue, were changed to red and grey in 1903. The school motto, "Vita Vitalis A Life Worth While" was adopted in 1932 Our dress for graduation, ladies in white and gentlemen in suits, is as old as the school itself. The Alumni Association also has a long legacy since its establishment in 1897. One of our most noticeable ties with the past is our collection of class photographs dating back to 1896. Playing "find the ancestor" is a sport for many of our students, parents and visitors.

One of the most significant events in our history occurred this century. Responding to demands for increased academic rigor, Dr. Jack Wagstaff, Mr. Richard Thorne and Mrs. Sandi Thorne initiated the research in 1983 that led Saint John High to become the first accredited International Baccalaureate school in New Brunswick. Since its inception, Saint John High has witnessed a number of students fulfill the demanding schedule of the Diploma Programme or complete the internal and external assessment of the IB courses. Feedback from these students indicates that their transition to university life was much easier because of the instruction.

Saint John High School is proud of its traditions, commitment to quality education, extra-curricular activities and service to the community. As we look to the future, reflections of the past will be an important component of our celebrations. Consideration of our continuing role in the education of the communities' young people will, however, remain our primary focus.

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