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St. Joseph's School History

The decision to have a Catholic School in Port Elgin was closely linked to the desire to have a parish priest. Although discussions to have a Catholic School began in 1963 with 24 interested individuals, it was not until a series of meetings were held in June 1969 were held that a decision was made to determine a site for a Catholic School in Port Elgin.

On a summer day in 1969, Robert Dixon, Superintendent of the Bruce-Grey Roman Catholic Separate School Board spoke to the congregation about the formation of a new school, explaining the legalities and encouraging them to change their assessments over to Separate School education. Mr. Dixon had asked permission from Bishop Ryan to speak to the congregation. It was the first time permission had been granted for a layman to speak to the congregation. Robert Dixon and Jim Dales went door to door to solicit support. Just before Labour Day weekend, some newly-arrived French families willingly enrolled their children (some thirty-five) in the new Port Elgin Separate School.

The School opened in September 1969 with sixty-nine students after the Separate School Board purchased the old Port Elgin Public School from the Public School Board. Norman Bethune was the first principal.

The name St. Joseph’s Separate School became official at a Board meeting held on December 16, 1969. Two other names, “St. Jean de Brebeuf Separate School” and “Port Elgin Catholic School” were turned down.

With the growth of Ontario Hydro in the 70s St. Joseph’s School grew to over 600 students lodged in many portables and a portapak. The school began a French First Language program in 1983. Eventually this became a French Immersion program and the school continues to run a dual track program in French and English.    

            Information taken from St. Joseph’s 25th Anniversary Special Edition 1994-1995