Upper Canada College

From Academic Kids

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Drawing of former UCC campus at King and Simcoe Streets in downtown Toronto

Upper Canada College (UCC) is an all-male elementary and secondary school in Toronto, Ontario. It is widely considered to be the leading independent school in Canada. It has educated many of the country's elite, powerful and wealthy.

UCC is an independent, non-denominational school and administered by a Board of Governors as a public trust.

All of UCC's 1,000 day students and 110 boarders complete the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme during Grades 11 and 12.

The College maintains a traditional link to the Royal Family through Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who acts as Visitor to UCC. He is also a member of the school's Board of Governors.

The current principal of UCC is Dr. James P. Power, who assumed the role as the College's 18th principal in the summer of 2004.



It is the oldest private school in Canada, having been founded in 1829 by then-Lieutenant Governor Sir John Colborne (later Lord Seaton). Teaching at the College began in 1830. The school was founded in the hopes it would serve as a feeder school to the newly founded King's College (later the University of Toronto), and was modelled on the great public schools of Britain, most notably Eton College. The school was closely associated with the colonial establishment at this time.

UCC's student militia assisted Sir Francis Bond Head's Family Compact government in suppressing the pro-democracy William Lyon Mackenzie Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837. They were awarded Battle Colours by the monarch - one of only two schools in North America to be given this honour.

The College's first permanent buildings stood on Russell Square, on land that is now bounded by King, Simcoe, Adelaide and John Streets in downtown Toronto. After rapid industrial growth in the area, UCC moved to its current site, the Deer Park campus, 200 Lonsdale Road at Avenue Road in Forest Hill.

The world's first official lacrosse game occurred in 1867 on the grounds of UCC.

Nearly 600 graduates perished during both the First World War and the Second World War. According to historian Jack Granatstein, UCC graduates accounted for more than 30% of Canadian generals during the Second World War, including General Harry Crerar, Commander in Chief of the Canadian Army, and Major-General Bruce Matthews, Commander of the 2nd Canadian Division and later Chairman of the College's Board of Governors.

Additionally, during the Second World War, the school accepted Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe. This was the first time the school's student population included students from an ethnic or religious minority group - a change from the traditional Anglo-Saxon background of the school's student population.


UCC is Canada's wealthiest independent school, having an endowment of $40 million (CDN), which it has devoted to physical expansion, financial aid, scholarships, and advanced computer and laboratory equipment.

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UCC's Upper School on a snowy winter morning

Tuition fees range from $20,350 to $37,975, representing a 16 per cent increase since 2002. Today, only 8 per cent of the school population received financial aid, far less than at many other leading independent and private schools in North America. UCC is well-known for challenging admissions standards, accepting less than 22% of all applicants. The current student-to-teacher ratio is 1:8.

UCC has five gyms, four theatres, a hockey rink, a swimming pool, two Learning Centres (to study the way boys learn), ten tennis courts, eight sports fields, an extensive library collection, and a sports activity bubble. UCC also maintains its own archives.

The College has a notable collection of art work, war medals and real estate. The school houses a large collection of original paintings from the Group of Seven. Moreover, UCC is the owner of the world's first Victoria Cross awarded in 1854 to Old Boy, Alexander Roberts Dunn. Among the real estate holdings of the College is Canada's oldest "outdoor" school located in the town of Norval, 50 kilometres north of Toronto. The Norval Campus includes more than 1.81 square kilometres along the Credit River. UCC's real estate portfolio also includes other sites in the Greater Toronto Area.

UCC jargon

UCC students and staff alike often sport a language of their own as is common in many schools. For example:

Steward - A prefect

Red rocket - A message sent by a teacher to a boy's housemaster or advisor notifying incomplete work or failure to complete other academic responsibility.

Gating - A detention on Saturday

Year - A grade

House Advisor - Academic counsellor responsible for a few students within a house

Mentor - A senior student who takes care of a new boy for the first few weeks of the term

Prep - The junior school

Remove - The top grade at the Prep

First Dress - The most formal dress, used for special occasions or trips

School Dress - The regular dress, consisting of a dress shirt, house (or school) tie, slacks, and polished dress shoes

Spring Dress - The dress during the summer, consisting of a UCC golf shirt, khakis, and topsliders


UCC, like several other Commonwealth schools, divides its students into ten houses, each led by a Housemaster and a student-elected Head of House. Heads of Houses are among the sixteen "Stewards" who form the student government of the College. Two of these houses, Wedd's and Seaton's, are residential and the remaining eight are for students who live at home. The Houses are:

Recent events


In 2004, UCC was embroiled in a very public $62 million class action lawsuit brought by eighteen students who sued the school over alleged sexual abuse by Doug Brown, a member of the faculty who taught at UCC from 1975 until 1993.

The lawsuit was settled on the eve of the trial, but the public outcry from the College's poor handling of the scandal continues to plague the school.

In October of 2004, Doug Brown was found guilty of 9 counts of indecent assault, while a housemaster and teacher at UCC. In January of 2005, he was sentenced to 3 years in jail. An appeal is currently in the works.

In a media release, UCC has announced that they "continue to offer [their] support to those who were victims of abuse at the College, and [they] are committed to a fair process for determining the school's responsibility to compensate those who were victimized by Doug Brown."

Capital building project

UCC has launched a decade-long $90 million capital building campaign - the largest and most ambitious fundraising campaign of any pre-university school in Canada. The plans call for the creation of two new arena complexes, an Olympic-standard 50-metre swimming pool, a new racquet centre (squash, badminton and tennis), a rowing centre, expansion of both the Prep and Upper School academic buildings, and an expansion of the Archives.


The Bishop Strachan School (BSS), located three blocks away from UCC, is UCC's official sister school, although ties between the schools have been strained over the past few years. This has lead UCC to become actively involved with other nearby girls schools, including St. Clement's School (SCS), Havergal College, and Branksome Hall.

Lower Canada College, a co-educational private school in Montreal, Quebec, is not affiliated with UCC.


UCC has a reputation for educating many of Canada's powerful, elite and wealthy. As is common in single-sex male schools, UCC's alumni are known simply as "Old Boys." Examples include:

A more exhaustive list of some of the school's most notable graduates can be found here: List of Upper Canada College alumni.

External links


  • More About UCC (http://www.ucc.on.ca/A01000_moreaboutus.html), UCC Website

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