Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Students: 605 students
Faculty: Over 50 faculty and staff
Mascot: Del Athletics
The Brothers of the Christian Schools arrived in Montreal in 1837 and founded the first permanent community of De La Salle Brothers in North America. At the request of Bishop De Charbonnel, five Brothers came to Toronto in 1851 establishing a grammar school at the corner of Lombard and Jarvis Streets. Twenty years later, the school was extended to include secondary education and relocated to what was then the Bank of Upper Canada.
The name De La Salle Institute was changed to De La Salle College in 1880, when university entrance courses were added. The next major step occurred in 1913, when De La Salle College took over part of the 67 Bond Street building, right next to St. Michael’s Cathedral. In 1925, the senior section was relocated in what is now Our Lady of Perpetual Help School. In 1932 and 1933, these classes were moved to De La Salle College “Oaklands” which had opened in 1931. “Oaklands” was once part of the Crown Lands deeded to Honourable John Elmsley in 1798. In 1858, Senator John Macdonald acquired 30 acres of it and built what was the residence of the Brothers. The Brothers of the Christian Schools bought 12 acres of the property in 1931 and turned it into a boys’ school. Brother Alfred was the guiding genius in acquiring the property and became the school’s first Director/Principal. In 1950, after a great deal of effort and sacrifice on the part of the Brothers and the alumni of the school, the present structure was officially opened.
Over a 27 year period, starting in 1967, part or all of De La Salle “Oaklands” was sponsored by The Metropolitan Separate School Board (MSSB), now known as the Toronto District Catholic School Board. After much thought and discussion, the Brothers of the Christian Schools determined that returning the school to its former independent status would best meet the spiritual and educational needs of the Catholic community they are called to serve, and in September of 1994, De La Salle College “Oaklands” again reopened its doors as an independent, now co-educational, university preparatory school.
Celebrating its 160th anniversary, De La Salle “Oaklands” held a special gathering in the Heritage House for alumni and parent donors on Thursday, September 15, 2011. The occasion acted as a reminder to all of the debt of gratitude that is owed to those gone before and who are principally responsible for the great heritage of De La Salle “Oaklands.” 160 years recalls the heroic efforts and sacrifice of generations of Brothers, lay persons, and alumni who have passed, as well as an opportunity to reflect on the life and work of St. John Baptist de La Salle, the Founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
Later this Spring, “Del Oak” will also celebrate, by retiring the number of Kris Draper of the Detroit Red Wings on May 3rd, the 160th School Gala with 600-700 guests expected on May 4th, and the annual Charity Golf Tournament on June 12th. There will also be a number of reunions and other events organized by the Alumni Board.
Almost as old as Del Oak itself is The De La Salle Cadet Corps program. As part of the school’s tradition of community service, the student run Cadet program, headed by the corps Commandant, Major Nonato, dedicates its time to many causes throughout the community. From their work with and promotion of the Boy Scouts, to volunteering with the Caritas drug treatment and therapy program, to conducting Honor Guard and accompanying school religious ceremonies, the Cadet program is an active part of the “Oaklands” community. As part of the program, Cadets work to achieve the Duke of Edinburgh Award. The program encourages youth to be active, to participate in new activities, and pursue current interests in four different areas: Community Service, Personal Skill Development, Physical Recreation, and Adventurous Journey. With a passion for service to others while exploring one’s personal boundaries and challenging them, students can choose the rigor of the program they create, and achieve the concurrent award level; Bronze, Silver and Gold.
As part of service to others, the entire De La Salle “Oaklands” community gets behind major fundraising and volunteer events each year including Skate for Daniel, which raises awareness for brain tumour research, with all proceeds benefitting the Daniel Bertoia Family Endowment Fund and SickKids Foundation. As part of their Twinning activities, Del Oak does its major fundraiser in November. Sharelife Day, typically the third Friday in November, turns the school into a festival environment. Each homeroom is responsible for running an activity throughout the day that Del Oak students and faculty, along with family, friends, and others can enjoy. From the Dunk the Teacher station, to the High Heels race, the French Café and the De La Salle Breakfast Bistro, small donations for activities and food quickly add up. Culminating with the music department’s “Lasallian Idol,” a looney or tooney (one dollar or two dollars, Canandian currency) will get you entrance to Del Oak’s best musical talents. The event raises over $6,000 for Mount La Salle in Naka, Nigeria.