The History of Oak Bay Senior High School

Editor’s Note: The following story was found in the Oak Bay High School Archives. It has been published here as it was originally written. Only minor changes to the format have been made. Anyone who would like to add to this page, please contact the webmaster by e- mail, or phone the school at 598-3361.

by Gillian Fosdick
A Report for Social Studies 11
Written for Don Taylor’s Class – 1972



The first school in Oak Bay was built in 1885. It was located on the corner of Cadboro Bay and Lansdowne Road, on the present site of the 18th tee of the Uplands Golf Course. This school served children from as far north as Telegraph Bay, some two and one half miles away, and, from as far south as the vicinity of the Jubilee Hospital. Most of the children who attended lived on farms and because of the great distance had previously not been able to attend any public school.

The second Oak Bay school was located in an area , now subdivided, close to 943 Foul Bay Road. In both cases, the children at the school ranged in age from approximately six or seven to fifteen or sixteen, but it is not clear whether or not the older students were in higher grades, or, if they started school late because of work on the farm and the distance to school.

Sixty years ago, only four or five students living in Oak Bay were qualified to attend high school and they went to Victoria High School. During the next two or three years this number steadily increased. In 1914, when the number was between twenty-five and thirty, the City of Victoria realized they were educating non-residents and began to urge Oak Bay to pay towards their own secondary education. It was then that the Oak Bay School Board decided to establish a small high school of its own, rather than put it off until the number had reached two or three hundred.

H.P. Hope - Principal 1915-1923

H.P. Hope – Principal

Some thirty-five teenagers, residents of Oak Bay, were qualified to attend, but it was a difficult matter persuading many of their parents that such a small school could possibly compete in any way with the large and well equipped Victoria High School. In 1915, Oak Bay High School began its career with Mr. H. P. Hope as principal and Miss Broadbent as an assistant teacher. The school was located on Oak Bay Avenue on the present site of the Oak Bay Municipal Hall.






Oak Bay’s First High School

Grades nine through to Junior Matriculation were taught there (when Oak Bay Junior High School opened in 1953, grade nine students were sent there.) With small numbers in classes the work proceeded very well and it was not surprising that a time should arrive when Oak Bay High School might have the leading student of the Province in the Junior Matriculation. This actually occurred , in fact the school had the first two students in the Province in the same year – Miss G. Hardy and Miss N. Keay. Now quite a number of non-residents of Oak Bay were prepared to pay fees for the privilege of attending. And in order to lessen the expense of educating the High School pupils, the Oak Bay School Board allowed Mr. Hope to admit such pupils as could find accommodation in the four rooms then in use.

During one year there were over thirty pupils, nonresidents of the Municipality, each paying fees of $150.00 per annum attending.

As early as 1919, it was recognized that the Oak Bay Avenue property and equipment would soon be entirely inadequate. That year, the School Board purchased the Cassanave Farm on Cranmore Road. It was hoped a new school building would be erected here sometime in the near future. In the meantime the land would serve as a school sports ground.

The by-law for the school, submitted for the third time was finally passed in February 1929.


G. Downes - Principal 1923-1929

G. Downes – Principal

Meanwhile, as the enrollment increased to two hundred the school board found it necessary to add two rooms to the existing four room school, in 1921 and again in 1925. With the progress of the school, commercial classes were given. Owing to the growth of the school, and in order to provide room for new classes, it was found advisable to move the commercial classes over to a small building in the grounds of Willows School. The staff was also increased to keep up with the number of students. Mr. Gordon Downes replaced Mr. H. P. Hope as principal in 1923.






D.H. Hartness- Principal 1929 - ?

D.H. Hartness- Principal
1929 – ?

Finally after 10 years of planning; the new Oak Bay Senior High School was built on the Cranmore Road site. Ready for occupancy in 1929 with an enrollment of 258 students and another principal, Mr. J. M. Billings, who, within two years was followed by Mr. D. H. Hartness. The High School was first designed as a concrete structure but the problems of cost caused a reduced redesign in a wood frame.





In 1953, Oak Bay Junior High School was opened and the Industrial Arts and Home Economics rooms in this new building were used by both schools. By 1957, it became apparent that an addition to the existing building (of the Senior High School) was both desirable and necessary and was so approved.

The work was one of the projects of the four and one half million dollar Building By-Law Project, approved in Victoria March 9, 1957, and involved an expenditure of approximately six hundred and seventy-two thousand dollars.

The addition meant that four new classrooms, eight shops and laboratories, a gymnasium, stage and dressing area would be added to the original building. Equipment and finishes were selected mainly with a view of low maintenance, long life and economy. Architect’s drawings were commenced after by-law approval, contract was let December 11, 1957 and first occupancy by students occurred September 3, 1958.

J.G. Wallace - Principal 1963 - 1970

J.G. Wallace – Principal
1963 – 1970



D. Voth – Principal
1970 – 1975









In 1971, further additions were made to the office and art department of the 1929 wing of the school.

In the past year the Construction classes at three High Schools in Victoria have helped build the new band room for the Oak Bay School Bands.

Today, Oak Bay Senior High School has an enrollment of over eleven hundred students. The school serves an area bounded by Cadboro Bay, Hibbon, Landsdowne and Richmond Roads, although some students come from as far as Esquimalt, Burnside and Sydney.

The school has produced a sixty page catalogue of the more than one hundred courses available. In many cases students are given a choice of semester or non-semester subjects. Oak Bay students have traditionally selected academic courses in greater numbers than provincial averages and have earned the reputation of being a distinctly academic high school. In 1954, the top four students in the Departmental Examinations for the Province were from Oak Bay. Commercial, Industrial, Community Services and Visual and Performing Arts Programs are all readily available.


When the school was still very small – not over seventy-five students – we had boys’ and girls’ basketball, rugby, cricket and girls’ fieldhockey teams, For two years we learned how to lose games gracefully, as we did not win a single match at any line of sport during this time, Games were played against Victoria High School, University School and the Royal Naval College, so this was not particularly suprising. In about the sixth year of our career we began to put stronger teams in the fields and In 1921 actually defeated Victoria High School in the Thompson Cup Series (rugby) and represented the Island in the match.

Trophys and Cups

In the page that follows a brief description is given of the various sports cups and trophys that Oak Bay competes for each year.

SIR EDWARD BEATTIE TROPHY – This cup is presented each year to the Senior High School which wins the annual swim gala in Greater Victoria. Oak Bay has won this cup each season for the past twenty-one years,(since 1951).

COLONIST CUP – This cup is presented by the Daily Colonist to the team winning championship of the Greater Victoria Inter-High School Soccer League.

BRIDGEMAN CUP – This cup is presented each season by the Bridgeman family to the winner of a day-long field-hockey tournament held in Victoria and open to Senior Secondary, Junior Secondary and Independent schools on Vancouver Island. Oak Bay won the cup In 1940, 1941, 1947, 1953, 1955, 1958, 1969, 1970,and 1971.

HOWARD RUSSELL CUP – Ernest Howard Russell (1867-1926) was an outstanding Rugby player and professor of Mathematics at both Victoria College and U.B.C. Presented after his death for rugby competition between Oak Bay and Victoria High, the cup was originally for “junior” teams from the school as the Thompson Cup was for the “senior” or representative teams..It later replaced the Thompson Cup. Other Schools entered competition after the Greater Victoria School District was created. The Cup is awarded each year to the team winning the Greater Victoria Inter-High School Rugby League.

MAY TULLY SHIELD – This shield to presented to the team which wins championship of the girl’s Inter-High FieldHockey League.

ROY JONES MEMORIAL TROPHY – Roy Jones was a teacher at Mount View High School. Following Mr. Jones’ death, this trophy was presented in his memory. It to awarded annually to the winner of the Greater Victoria Inter-High School Track Meet.

THOMPSON CUP – The cup was originally presented to the winner of an annual Rugby series between Victoria High and Oak Bay This was later replaced by the Howard Russell Cup.

Oak Bay’s Cinder Track

In 1956, Oak Bay’s Student Council under president Doug Stewart decided that the school should have a cinder track and that a project to raise money was needed immediately. An appeal to the students of the school for coat hangers brought a tremendous response. Soon a large basement storeroom was overflowing with hangers. Upon separating the tangled mass, the students found they had 28,776 coat hangers which a local dry cleaning company purchased at half a cent each. The $143.88 realized from this project was banked on April 12, 1956. The 1955-56 council made a further contribution to the fund at the end of that school year.

In subsequent years the students added substantially to the total, largely through profits form school fairs. The proceeds from these fairs had raised the track fund to $9000. by 1966. The Victoria Gyro Club indicated its continuing interest in community affairs by making a generous donation of $5000 to the track fund.

With the amount standing at $14,000, the Greater Victoria School Board responded to a request for financial help and advice concerning the actual construction. At considerable expense to the board, it’s Building and Grounds department built the necessary retaining wall. After providing additional funds, the School Board proceeded with the construction of the track. The official opening of the Cinder Track was on Friday, May 10, 1968.


THE ANNUAL – Oak Bay High School issued its first annual magazine in 1930 to commemorate the opening of the present school. This publication was continued for a short period under the name “Cranmore” but was given up after a few years because of insufficient financial support. The practise was re-established in 1940 and an annual has been published each year since.

CHEERLEADERS – Since 1949, Oak Bay cheerleaders have been very much in evidence at every major game or competition Oak Bay has participated in. Some years, there were several energetic boys know as “Yell-Leaders” supporting the girls. Their smart uniforms have always been in some combination of the school’s colors – green and white.

HI – Y CLUBS – Delta Phi Hi-Y (boys) – Omicron Beta Hi-Y (boys) – Y-teens (girls)
Members enjoyed programs and meetings at the YM-YWCA. They competed against other Hi-Y clubs during the year in exhibition games. The clubs aided local organizations by holding bottle drives and selling refreshments at various school functions. During the year they operated a lost found, at Christmas the students went caroling and also made up hampers for needy families.

I.S.C.F. (Inter-School Christian Fellowship) is an interdenominational group and has as its aim “To Know Christ and to Make Him Known”. This group of students tries to provide the opportunity for Christians and non-Christians alike to examine the Christian faith and seek to foster a spirit of honest enquiry. The club has organized Bible study groups, discussion sessions, weekend camp-outs and social events.

NEWSPAPER CLUB – The newspaper club was first started under the management of the journalism class in 1950. In 1952 it became an out of class project. Published under several names – Oakleaf, Plastic Press and now the Rehulljifat – the purpose of the newspaper is to encourage creative writing and aid in the school interest.

PREFECTS – up until several years ago, prefects were very much in evidence at Oak Bay. At the beginning of each year, eight students were selected by the teaching staff with careful regard to scholastic standing, Integrity and qualities of leadership. Their job was to assist in minor disciplinary matters in school and their duties included policing traffic in the halls and basement, looking after the bicycle sheds, checking up late-comers, bell ringing and routine work in the library and office.

S.F.E.R.E. – (Students For Environment Rescue) The organization of s.f.e.r.e. was formed in 1970. It was a response to the increasing problems of population growth, industrial expansion, widespread and indiscriminate use of pesticides, and general ignorance regarding ecological balance. Its members believe that an informed public is the most effective weapon in the fight for our environment, because it can exert pressure on governments of all levels. The group meets regularly, usually to listen to experts in various fields (politicians, biologists, engineers, etc.), and they participate in clean-ups and organize actions by students.

SPADES – Sponsored by the Oak Bay Kiwanis Club to help disabled persons, members attend the retarded centre and the Cerebral Palsy Clinic. They square dance with, talk to, swim with, visit, encourage and give parties for children all over the city, who, ordinarily would not be able to plan such events for themselves.

THE SQUARE DANCE CLUB – The organization of the square dance club was the aftermath of the square dance lessons in gym classes (1952). With 135 members this club had the largest membership of any club in the school at that time. The 50 cent membership fee went to buy records and membership cards.

RED CROSS CLUB – The red cross club was first started at Oak Bay about 1942. Each year the club donated small gifts of handkerchiefs, pocket-books, writing paper and envelopes, cigarettes, toothbrushes and razor blades to fill Christmas stockings at the D.V.A. Hospital. In 1953, the club undertook the task of collecting old woolen clothing which was sent to Vancouver and made into blankets for the Holland Flood Relief. One Christmas, the group made wooden play blocks and equipment for the children’s Therapeutic Ward of the Royal Jubilee Hospital. One year they collected 14 tons of paper In a paper drive.

REACH FOR THE TOP – Proof of Oak Bay’s high academic standing is in its record of entrants in the “Reach For The Top”. Oak Bay’s team won the Island Championship (winning encyclopedias for the school) in 1967-68-69, 1970 and 1971. In 1968, the team of Jim Dempsey, John Duder (spare), Bruce Iszard, Robert McDougall, Chris Odgers, and their coach Glenn Atkinson not only won the Island and British Columbia Championships, but also took the Canadian Reach For The Top Championship, winning themselves a trip to the Orient (including Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur). The team donated $12,000 of their winnings to set up a permanent “Reach For The Top” scholarship fund.

EMBLEMS – In past years various crests and emblems have been in evidence at Oak Bay High School, but until 1929 there wasn’t one that was truly representative or official. It was felt that a suitable emblem should be chosen and accordingly, a competition was held among the students for the purpose of securing a design which could be used. Between forty and fifty responded to the call and from among many excellent ideas, one was chosen. It had been submitted by Douglas Patterson of Grade 9.


Accompanied by the Pep Band and led by the Cheerleaders, Oak Bay students sing their school song at Basketball games and School competitions.
by J. Bigsby

Okay! Let’s Go Oak Bay
Let’s Strive On To Victory
And We’ll Show Them
How It’s Done Again & Again
Sing Out With All Your Might
Cause This Team’s Got All The Fight
Let’s Win For The Green & White
That’s Good Old Oak Bay High. Hey!
Green And White,
Green And White,
These Are The Colours For Which We Fight,
Razzle Dazzle
Sis Boom Bah
Oak Bay High School
Rah Rah Rah


Although Oak Bay has not held one for many years, at one time it was the custom to hold a fall fair every two or three years to raise funds for various student activities. At each fair there were games and raffles, auctions, white elephants, books and records, homebaking, candies and novelties. All the fairs were very successful – raising between $1,400. and $1,800. dollars. The decorations were different each year; one year the auditorium was decorated in a merry-go-round motif, multicoloured streamers transformed the area into a huge tent canopy. Bouncing balloons and clever posters identifying the various stalls and games, gave the entire school all the colour and atmosphere of the “Biggest Show On Earth”.

In November of 1945, the students had a Red Cross Fair and raised $1,600 to go the British War Nurses.


Oak Bay Junior and Senior Secondary schools have a very active band program, with a total of 411 band students. According to the member’s skill he is placed in one of the four band classes. The primary goal in these band classes is education in music through the learning how to play a musical instrument. During these classes the students play technical studies which build the players skill, making him a better musician. These bands never have public concerts, however, from these classes students are chosen to take part in one of the three performing bands, These bands are called Grey, Scarlet and Concert Bands. From the Concert Band, interested students may take part in any of the following bands;

  1. Pep Band – This band performs at school and community athletic events, providing light music to suit these occasions. The Pep Band has about twenty-five members,
  2. Jazz Ensembles – There are two Jazz ensembles in the Oak Bay Bands. The band performs for the school and public. There are approximately forty members in the Jazz Ensemble.
  3. Chamber Ensemble – This is an informal ensemble and is primarily for personal pleasure. Membership ranges from two to twenty.
  4. Electronic Music – Interested students are given instruction in this contemporary type of music in both classical and synthesizer composition.

In the past five years, the bands have taken part in almost 200 performances. Many of these have been on band trips. The bands have travelled to different parts of the world to take part in various events such as Expo ’70 in Osaka.

In recent years the Oak Bay Senior High School Concert Band has won numerous awards. The greatest recognition, however came in 1970. That year the band earned the right, through competition, to officially represent the Canadian Government at Expo ’70 in Japan, upon official invitation of the Japanese Government.


In 1930, there was no real drama class, however, several plays were presented (despite the fact that there was no curtain or scenery). By 1940 a regular drama club had been formed. A curtain was obtained and lighting for the stage was installed. The club had 155 members. By 1945, they had special stage and lighting crews. In 1951 Drama became a regular course. The outcome of this was apparently quite remarkable, through the year the class had changed from an inexperienced group of students to a knowledgeable drama class. The group presented several school and public performances.

The Oak Bay Junior High Auditorium was finished in 1953 and the group put on several plays there. In 1954, the art class was responsible for the costuming and props. In 1958, the club presented two pantomime scenes in the British Columbia Centennial Pageant “From Wilderness To Wonderland” in which seventy Oak Bay students took part.



Mr. G. Atkinson; former coach of the Oak Bay Reach for the Top Team.
Mrs. Colwell; Microfilm department, Victoria School Board.
Mr. C. Gibbard; former principal, Oak Bay Senior High School.
Mr. D. Jones; Band student, Oak Bay Senior High School.
Mrs. E. McLellan; (ne: Cassanave) attended the first school in Oak Bay (Cadboro Bay Road).
Mr. G. Murdoch; former Reeve
Mr. W. D. Oliver; Former Vice-Principal, Oak Bay Senior High School.
Mr. A. Peterson; Photographer, Oak Bay Senior High School
B.C. Sessional Papers (1895-1910)
The Corporation of the District of Oak Bay (souvenir booklet) 1956
Oak Bay Senior High School Annuals (1929-1971)
Victoria Daily Colonist (1885-1970)
Victoria Daily Times

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