Vintage photo of Princlpal Ellen Knox reading to students

History & Tradition

When Havergal first opened its doors at 350 Jarvis Street in 1894, Toronto was experiencing tremendous growth. Havergal, too, was growing rapidly. From 1894 to 1899, enrolment grew from 40 to 239 students, and continued to increase. During its first 30 years, the Board made 13 real estate purchases and undertook three major building projects. In 1926, the school relocated to its current location on the corner of Avenue Road and Lawrence Avenue.

Havergal College was named after Frances Ridley Havergal, an exemplary Victorian woman who was a composer, hymnist, author and humanitarian. The school was committed to the education of women long before it was commonplace.

Miss Ellen Mary Knox was the first Principal of the school. She was a graduate of Oxford University, a teacher at Cheltenham Ladies’ College in England, a devout member of the Anglican church and Principal of Havergal College for 30 years. Miss Knox led the school with determination and vision through its first three decades and often posed the question to her students: “What are you going to do?” This question still resonates with today’s students as Havergal prepares young women to make a difference for good in the world. The school embraces its Anglican affiliation with pride and commitment in ways that are inclusive of the many faiths of the students enrolled at Havergal.

In the early 1900s, Miss Knox, had the foresight to purchase farmland “up north” in order to build a school in the “country.” Havergal’s main entrance looks very much like it did when the school first opened on Avenue Road in 1926. Following the move to the current campus, wings were added in 1959 and 1977. In 1999, a new Junior School was built and a new Upper School wing dedicated to the Humanities, the Sciences and Technology was opened. The Athletic Centre and the Dr. Catherine Steele 1928 Archives opened in September 2006.

Over the course of the school year, Havergal holds numerous events and celebrates many special occasions with the school community. Below are just a few of Havergal’s traditions that are celebrated year after year.

  • Candlelight Ceremony and Graduation
  • Celebration Saturday
  • Carol Service
  • Father Daughter Dance
  • Founders’ Day
  • Harvest Festival
  • House Shout
  • Prayers
  • Reunion Weekend