Mount Royal School
A time capsule of the place we call home
In 1909, the trustees approved the site where Mount Royal School would soon stand. Mount Royal was a modern school and its design was used for many other schools at the time including Earl Grey and Riverside. Known as “Cottage Schools”, they were made of roughcut sandstone that could stand against wind, hail and snow.
When the school first opened in 1910, 395 students were enrolled. Mr. A.J. Watson was the Principal and only six female teachers were allocated as staff. With the large school population not only the classrooms were crowded – the basement was also a busy place used for boys physical education classes.
In 1919, 7 bungalow schools were completed and the Mount Royal School’s population dropped by 80 or 90 students as students moved to the new bungalow school in Bankview.
The reporting procedure used in 1926 differed greatly from today. At that time, Grades I and II were issued yearly certificates indicating only where a student stood in class, the number of days absent and a comment about their conduct. Parents were also given the name of the student who ranked highest in the class. However, in subsequent grades gruesome details were divulged by a monthly breakdown of the entire year. On the back of each report card is was stated “Pupils who read and study at night easily outstrip those who spend their time on the streets.”
In the 1930s the Mount Royal School Choir twice won the Alberta Music Festival Shield, given by the Edmonton School Board for the best Alberta public school choir. During both World Wars graduates from Mount Royal School enlisted. A plaque in the front hallway of the present school honours the 264 brave students who fought in the Canadian Armed Forces. In 1953 a new gymnasium was added to the sandstone structure, the present Industrial Arts shop and the Home Economics rooms occupy that old space.
The name of Mount Royal School has caused some concern and on December 4, 1954 Principal Mr. Pecover wrote a letter asking that the school be given a new name. Mail for South Mount Royal School, Mount Royal College and Mount Royal School was often being directed to the wrong address! South Mount Royal School officially became William Reid Elementary on May 8, 1955 easing some of the problem.
When 14th Street was widened in 1966, the sandstone structure that stood on the hill overlooking the Bow River Valley was demolished. A new building built behind the old school, was dedicated on May 3, 1967 and stands today as the present Mount Royal Junior High. Students finally had their Home Economics. And Shop facilities where students could take such courses as “Home Care of the Sick Child” or “Building Construction and Related Industries.” The new school certainly offered a diversified challenge to the students of the class of ’67.
Throughout the 1960s and ‘70s Mount Royal maintained a high academic standard as seen by the number of names on the school’s honour role. The school however, was not only seen as a place for developing scholarship. Lizz Ann Walsh said in her Valedictory letter for the yearbook that year, “We have come to realize that education is not only academic, but it is also the process by which we learn to respect and understand people, to comfort and enjoy them; to live in peace and harmony with them. Perhaps the person who has best taught this lesson is our principal, Mr. Wallace.”
Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s, Mount Royal School’s population has sifted both up and down. Students still come from the districts of Connaught, Scarboro, Mount Royal, Bankview and Sunalta. However, as the city of Calgary has changed, so too has the area from where students come to Mount Royal Junior High. Now students come from as far away as Victoria Park and Strathcona. The school has a diverse population boasting students who speak many languages and come from more than 40 different countries. Mount Royal Also has two special education classes (ACCESS and a TASC) who participate with their same aged peers as possible in physical educational and complementary programming classes. The school is, as one person described it, “a slice of real life!”
The steps from the original building lead into the playing field from the present day parking lot. Students still feel a sense of history in the present school and they are proud of their role in making Mount Royal School a Caring Concerned Community!