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Education – Fifth Street Public School

May 21, 2020 (0) comment

One of the first schools was located on Fifth Street in New Toronto.  In 1906, the school started in a frame building at 220 Sixth Street, known as “Hunt’s Hall” and owned by the Independent Order of Foresters.  Susan Berry writes in her book, A History of Education in the Lakeshore area, that “It was reached from the highway [Lakeshore Blvd, Kings Hwy No. 2] by a narrow two plank bridge crossing at one place over a small stream that ran through the area.  Miss Mary E. Breen taught all grades in the one room.”  (There is no evidence today of a stream anywhere in the area of Lakeshore, 6th, and Birmingham streets). 

Hunt’s Hall seemed to be a focal point in New Toronto at the turn of the century.  I’ve found several newspaper articles noting that committee rooms were available in the hall (The Toronto Daily Star, 1911/08/25 pg. 10) and that the first Anglican Church service was held in Hunt’s Hall (Toronto Daily Star, 1938/06/10 pg. 6) before St. Margaret’s Anglican Church was built. 

In 1908, a petition was submitted to the Township Council and School Section number 13 (New Toronto) was formed.  A couple years later, the school on Fifth Street was built.  In 1917, four rooms were added. Like Hunt’s Hall, the new school hall was often used for community meetings.  The vote for by-law no. 11, noted above, was taken in the school hall in July 1913. 

However, the school came to an unfortunate demise.  It burned down in February 1947. Below are pictures of the school before and after the fire.  The 1/2 page story about the fire can be found in the Toronto Daily Star, February 18th, 1947.  Check out Pages of Past on the Toronto Star website.  A nominal fee gets 5 hours of search time with full text research of newspapers back to the 1800’s.  

After much debate on whether to rebuild the school, it was finally decided that a larger school was needed to service the community.  Although the site between Dwight, Birmingham, and Second streets was originally planned for a composite (vocational) school, once Fifth Street burned down, the site was secured for a new elementary school and subsequently gave birth to 2nd Street Public School, which still stands today.  

The site of the old Fifth Street School was turned over for government services.  It served for several years as a town hall, jail, courthouse and a community police station.  Eventually, in October 1976, 185 Fifth Street became the L.A.M.P. Community Centre as it exists today, providing many health and other services, such as daycare and youth programs, to the community. 

The New Toronto Secondary School was finally built in 1950 on Eighteenth Street (Kipling Avenue) and is currently Lakeshore Collegiate Institute.  The following is a picture that an interested contributor found in the basement of the New Toronto school.  After 1950, the Board of Education of New Toronto became part of the Etobicoke Board of Education.

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