Central Technical School (C.T.S.) is a composite high school located at 725 Bathurst Street at Harbord Street in Toronto, Ontario. It is a part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). Prior to 1998 it was within the Toronto Board of Education (TBE).
C.T.S. offers a wide range of programs, including all core academic courses, as well as concentration and specialization in visual arts and technical studies. C.T.S. also offers enriched levels and special education, including resource room and monitoring for students who have been identified as having learning disabilities, and support for students in the transition from high school to university, college, apprenticeship or employment.
Around the start of the 20th century, the northern and western limits of the City of Toronto intersected approximately at the corner of Bloor and Spadina. It was here that the horse-drawn trolleys of the Toronto Street Railway turned off Bloor Street and made their way south towards the lakefront.
Suburbia began at Spadina, and slightly to the west, where Central Tech now stands was a large apple orchard owned by members of the Saywell family. As more people moved to the suburbs part of this orchard was purchased by the Board of Education and it became the site of Borden St. public school. The fact that the Board already owned this property was largely responsible for its choice as the site of the Toronto Technical School when construction of this school was finally approved.
Currently, the main building of the complex is the fourth home of Central Technical School. As early as 1888, the Association of Stationary Engineers had requested the City Council to consider the establishment of a school for technical training to meet the need for skilled workers for Toronto’s booming industries. There followed a certain amount of political buck passing in which the Council tried to shift the responsibility for founding such a school to the Board of Management of the Public Library. The Library Board investigated the whole picture of technical education on this continent and reported that the need for such a school was obvious, but that to be effective, it should be on a much larger scale than originally contemplated by Council. They recommended that a special committee be set up to blueprint the organization and management of the proposed institution. Finally, in 1891, Council passed a motion “to establish The Toronto Technical School to be located in the St. Lawrence Hall and the anterooms connected therein.” The school mainly catered to older students with the classes being held in the evenings so that employees could attend after work. Classes began on January 26, 1892, and were held from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. each public school day.
Provision was made for a total of 150 students studying mathematics, chemistry, descriptive geometry, mechanics, physics, and drafting. Unfortunately, 307 students registered and it was soon apparent that the St. Lawrence Hall was totally inadequate, so the school moved the more spacious Old Wycliffe Hall on the north side of College St. at the head of McCaul St., the present site of the Mining Building of the University of Toronto.
By 1896, the enrollment had risen to 1,511. Courses in Domestic Science were introduced in that year and the school became coeducational. The overcrowding led to many complaints by interested organizations who demanded that a suitable building be provided for the Toronto Technical School . A harassed city council finally appointed a committee to find a new site. Tech currently holds 2,500 students.
About this time, the Toronto Athletic Club got into financial difficulties and its property was put up for sale. This was the building known as the Stewart Building on the south side of College St., which until recently housed the Ontario College of Art. The Technical School Board purchased it in 1900 for $80,000 plus back taxes, and agreed to raise a further $10,000 to convert it into a school. The first Art Department in the school was formed by putting a partition across the pool; sculpture was taught in the deep end of the tank and all the other art classes in the remaining area.
Day classes began in 1901 with 151 students, while the attendance at night school continued to soar with 1,710 students registered. One of the main reasons for the popularity of the school was the highly professional staff under the capable leadership of Dr. William Pakenham, who was principal from 1901 until June, 1907.
The period from 1900 to 1910 was one of great industrial growth in Canada and it soon became obvious that if Canada were to hold an influential place in world markets, a skilled labour force, backed by trained technicians, was a prime necessity. With this goal in mind, the Dominion Government requested Dr. John Seath to prepare a report on “Education for Industrial Purposes”. This report finally appeared in 1911. However, this is one instance where the City of Toronto was ahead of its time. Since 1907, it had been considering a site for a fine new technical school to be constructed as a purely civic enterprise. Finally, after many changes of mind, the present location was selected in 1912 and an agreement drawn up to permit the closing of Herrick Street between Lippincott and Borden Streets.
The Board of Education appointed Dr. A.C. McKay as principal in June, 1911. Most of the solid foundation of technical education in Toronto can be justly ascribed to the work of this man; indeed, had subsequent Boards adhered to his original plans, the system would have been even better. A former professor of physics at U. of T., a chancellor of McMaster, and an experienced teacher in both elementary and secondary schools, Dr. McKay was a man with a great vision of technical education. Dr. McKay began his plans for Central Tech by first visiting the great polytechnical schools of Europe. He returned with very definite ideas about the kind of building he wanted and immediately announced a competition open to all architects. The competition was won by Ross and Macfarlane of Montreal. The cornerstone of the new building was laid on September 3, 1913, by Robert Borden, Prime Minister of Canada. This building, with several expansions, remains the school’s home to this day. Features originally incorporated in the building include the crest over the main entrance of the school, the coat of arms of the City of Toronto. Central Tech is the only school that has the privilege of using this crest; it is due to the fact that the citizens of Toronto paid for the school without the aid of other levels of government.
The “ribbon” across the bottom of the crest carries the legend “Industry, Intelligence, and Integrity”. These qualities have always characterized our top graduates. The two capitals that top the columns supporting the main entrance arch presented a bit of a problem. The Scottish stonemasons who build the school wanted to make their own contribution to the building and they felt that the standard Gothic caps would lack interest. As their gift, they carved the two gnomes that surmount the columns. The one is dressed in academic cap and gown and is busy writing in a book, thus representing the academic side of the school. The second gnome is in the ancient garb of a journeyman working with hammer and chisel, representing the technical side of the school.
The Exhibition Room, 208, with its fine paneling and fireplace, was a gift from the builder at no cost to the citizens. The principal’ s office occupied the whole of Room 202 It was beautifully paneled in dark red mahogany with a beamed ceiling and plaster medallions that were masterpieces of the plasterer’s art.
The third floor was known as “C” floor and was reserved for the females. No male was allowed on this floor at any time except to go to the “lunch room” which occupied the corner and that part of the north corridor now given over to electronics. Segregation by sex was the order of the day and certain doors and stairs were reserved for use by females only. The auditorium has always been the focus of school activities. Central was one of the last schools to give up the tradition of daily opening exercises for the whole school.
The auditorium was the scene of the official opening of the school on the evening of Tuesday, August 31, 1915 . Some thirty-six years later, on the morning of April 20, 1951, its doors were locked for the last time and the keys turned over to the contractors to begin its conversion into a gymnasium.
The school gradually became more focused on educating the youth with the adult education programs being moved to other schools in the late 1930s. In 1915 there were approximately 750 ”scholars”. With an expected increase in student population the school ultimately had to expand. In 1932 to accommodate the increasing number of aircraft students, the city bought a garage, “the Annex”, at 844 Bathurst Street . It proved insufficient and in 1951 a major addition was erected on the south side replacing the girls’ playing field. This new wing included aircraft and auto mechanic facilities, a new auditorium, and a cafeteria.
Ten years later a separate addition was built on the boys’ playing field on the north side of the main building. It was to house the increasing number of art students who were overcrowded on the fifth floor of the main building (now the Mathematics Department). Much honour has been bestowed upon the architecture of the building and the high quality of work produced therein. Still another building was added in 1967 on the northwest corner of the campus. Referred to as the Bathurst Building it contains numerous shops, two gymnasia and an Olympic size swimming pool.
The latest addition has been a large Uniroyal track. These additions replaced a tennis court, a small park, and a playing field on the entire west side block. Today the high school campus, one of the largest in the nation, is a mixture of contrasting architecture: the collegiate gothic of the original building, and the ultramodern of the Art Centre and Bathurst buildings.
Much honour was bestowed on the school concerning Central Tech’s group efforts. Among these were the Cadet Corps, the football team and later, in the 30’s and 40’s, the track team. Another highlight was the installment of the memorial organ. Originally built as a memorial to the unfortunate students who lost their lives in the First World War, it soon became an integral part of the school.
During the Second World War, Central Tech’s facilities were put to use 24 hours a day. Students attended regular classes from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., special classes were held under the supervision of the Army, Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force, which involved marching drills, wireless operating, aircraft mechanics, tank repair and subjects related to the war effort.
On September 8, 2015 a stabbing occurred in an alley across the street from the school. No students were from CTS. The victim who is expected to make a full recovery, was placed under arrest on a separate issue.
Several films and television series have utilized the school as a location, including;Good Will Hunting
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Class of 1984
Silent Hill: Revelation 3D
Aba Bayefsky, artist and teacher at the Ontario College of Art
Adriano Belli, CFL player for the Toronto Argonauts
Tristan Black, CFL player for the Calgary Stampeders
Bruno Bobak, Canadian war artist
Leon Katz (physicist), member of the Order of Canada
Michael Smith, decathlete, now CBC broadcaster for athletic events
Sydney Newman, television and film producer
Lawren Harris, painter and member of the Group of Seven
son Lawren P. Harris was also an alumnus and painter
Terry Mosher, Montreal based political cartoonist
Frank Stukus, Toronto Argonauts player and Grey Cup champion