Whatever happened to …

… that school name?

A friend of mine is leaving an organization that I belong to.  I got the message the other day via email.  Included in the email was further contact information, including a link to a Linkedin account.  I checked it out.  Very complete.

It was also a memory jog for me.  I hadn’t checked or updated my own profile for a while so I went to take a look.  Everything seemed to be in order.  There’s the University of Waterloo, the University of Toronto, then something different.

I had taken some upgrading courses at the Faculty of Education at the University of Western Ontario.  The courses were indeed there and correct but not the name of the university – as I remember it.  It had been changed to Western University as it’s now known.  I don’t remember making the change so I’m guessing that either I did it in my sleep or Linkedin did it for me.  That brought back memories.  In the beginning, it wasn’t even the Faculty of Education.  It was Althouse College.  It was the place where we sent our bunched cards to be run on an IBM 1130 overnight and get the results the next day.  Althouse was where my uncle went to become a teacher.  It has this beautifully round library.  It has a great view.  The university (still with the uwo.ca domain) has a wonderful history page of the Faculty including reference to John George Althouse.

It wasn’t the first time I knew of a school name change.  All during elementary school (which we just called public school), we looked forward with fear of going to the “Collegiate” which had a great parking lot for riding our bikes.  Academically, it sounded to intimidating!  When we got there, the name had been changed and it was now “just” a secondary school.  Somehow, that was easier to take.  In both cases, the name made reference to our community.

As a student at a Faculty of Education, I did some practice teaching and chose locations near where I lived in Kitchener.  One of the schools I thoroughly enjoyed time at was Lord Elgin High School.  It has had some change in itself and been renamed Robert Bateman High School to honour the famous artist.  A tribute page recognizes both Lord Elgin and General Brock High Schools which came together to become one.

I had yet another hit yesterday on Friday with my “This Week” post.  Alana Callan had talked about the support given to educators at Fleming College.  I never knew it as that.  One of my best friends went to Sir Sanford Fleming College.  Yet another name change.  And, to the credit of the school, there is a link to Sir Sandford Fleming available from their website.

In all these cases, it seems to me that the name changes have been made to project a more modern and progressive institution. There’s nothing wrong with that.  What I do appreciate though in the case of Robert Bateman, Western and Fleming that they have a link back to their history, in particular to the person whose name was originally associated with the institution.  Yes, it’s a wander down memory lane for many but it also is a tribute to the original namesake.  Without that, the bit of history that goes with the institution would just go missing.  To me, that would be a shame.  Don’t we all build upon what has gone before us?

We live in a time when schools are being built, schools are being close, schools being moved, school being joined together, …  Sometimes the school name is just the location but, at other times, the community and school board had honoured an individual by attaching her/his name to a school.

Your thoughts?

  • When changes are made, should the memory of the person a school is named after be recognized somehow?
  • Is a school a school and the name doesn’t matter?
  • Is there something special about a school named after a person rather than a school named after a location?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts?

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

Published by dougpete

The content of this blog is created by me at the keyboard or as a result of an aggregator of my daily reading under the title OTR Links. On Fridays, look for my signature post "This Week in Ontario Edublogs" where I try to share some great writing from Ontario Educators. The other regular post appears Sunday mornings as I try to start a conversation about things that have gone missing from our daily lives.

2 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. A bit off topic, but I thought I would comment.

    I was recently a part of a committee to name my daughters’ new school. It was a fascinating process. At the table the principal of the new school, parents from two schools that would be sending students to the new school and a student as well. We went through 68 name suggestions. It quickly became apparent that the board would not consider a name if another school in Ontario had it. It’s a French school and so many wonderful French people were suggested as names by the school communities.

    What was amazing was how much impact the student at the table had on the group. She advocated for the name that she wanted – and was listened to.

    It might not be the name I would have chosen (of that I suggested), but a part of me learning to love the new name is knowing that it was actually a student that advocated for it. It reflects the history in the area that the school is build, is francophone and lends to some amazing marketing/school messages.

    The A&P in our community was renamed “Metro” and now with a Reno “Byron Village Metro”. My husband still calls it the A&P…

    Also, I didn’t know about the name changes at Western, so thanks for the update!


  2. The last part of your comment, Jen, actually had me thinking. There’s a Metro by my house that used to be The Barn. Even though I know it’s Metro, I still often think of it as The Barn. Adjusting to a change in name is a hard one.



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