Monday, August 1, 2011

Elmwood School for Girls

"When you walk through the halls of the school you notice the extraordinary energy, enthusiasm and purpose that our students possess. This is a place where girls feel safe and secure, a place where girls can find their voice, and a place where girls dare to dream big." Cheryl Boughton, current  headmistress of Elmwood, 2011

Founded as The Rockliffe Preparatory School in 1915 by Theodora A. Philpot. She was the visionary, the founder and the first headmistress of the school.

The school was established on Elmwood Farm (originally called Keefer farm but renamed Elmwood after Mrs. Philpot and Mrs. Fauquier bought the farm); initially, the school had four students, male and female, aged four to seven. The school set out originally to “prepare” young boys to attend a nearby boys' school at age 11 (likely Ashbury College).

From the beginning, the school attracted the attention of Ottawa's elite who sent their daughters to study at that school.

Edith Button, an Englishwoman marooned in Ottawa by wartime lack of transportation, joined the Elmwood staff in 1917 and remained with the school until 1951.

Ethel Fauquier and Lilias Southam, with the assistance of Mrs. Southam's husband, Harry, and her father, the Hon. Thomas Ahearn, purchased the Elmwood property and institution in 1919 in order to allow for its expansion.

Edith Buck, who was Philpot's assistant, became the second headmistress in 1920, and fulfilled that role until 1951.

The Rockcliffe Preparatory School changed its name to Elmwood in 1923 and shifted its vocation from the “preparation” of young boys to the education of young women.

Elmwood was the first Canadian independent day school for girls to adopt the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program in 1978.

Wilson House, part of Elmwood, was created and named in honour of Cairine Wilson, Canada's first female senator and long-time Elmwood patron in 1982. (Janet Uren)

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