Upper Canada College

In 1829, the Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, Sir John Colborne, founded a non-profit, non-denominational school for boys: Upper Canada College. Based on the English public school model, it existed as a provincial grammar school until 1900, at which time it became fully independent.

The two schools which comprise Upper Canada College occupy thirty-eight acres in the centre of Toronto. The Preparatory School, or Prep, has approximately 420 students from Grades SK to 7. The Upper School has approximately 730 students from Grades 8 to 12.

The College has a second campus, the Norval Outdoor School, which was acquired in 1913. It is located on a 450-acre property less than an hour from Toronto. This school is the site of an active environmental sciences and outdoor education program for students from the College, as well as from other schools.

The Norval Outdoor School straddles the Credit River valley, near the town of Norval, Ontario. In 1910 a proposal to sell the present U.C.C. lands and move to a less expensive location was considered. As a result the College purchased a tract of farmland from the Noble family in 1913. However, the onset of World War I, the escalating costs of re-establishing the College at Norval and its remote location, all prevented the development of the Norval property.

Alan Stephen, a former Prep Headmaster, initiated the use of the property for educational and recreational purposes. Through the efforts of Stephen and J. Graeme Watson, the property was enhanced by the planting of thousands of trees by Prep boarders and the construction of Norval House in 1939. In the late 1960s, under the leadership of then-Headmaster, Richard Howard, an environmental specialist Bruce Litteljohn was retained to develop a program of outdoor environmental education in a new facility named after Alan Stephen.
At the Norval Outdoor School, property management goes hand in hand with a broad, intensive outdoor education program for both Upper Canada College students and others. Management is largely directed towards the improved diversity of forest cover and the related protection of wildlife and the Credit River watershed. The learning program, which is an integral part of the academic curriculum of the College, emphasizes environmental concerns, including applied conservation, and recreation that is consistent with the integrity of the natural environment. The over-riding educational goals foster knowledge and appreciation of nature and a sharpened environmental conscience. Development of co-operative group skills and effective communication skills are critical to the development of a sensitive, altruistic approach to our environment. Group work and challenges are an integral component of a holistic approach to environmental education.

The UCC students have planted over 1 million trees on their property. The school is one of the oldest outdoor schools in Canada. Upper Canada College in partnership with Norval Community Association and Willow Park Ecology Centre will build a trail link into the village to be unveiled during the Norval-on-the-Credit Canada 150 Celebrations.