Baron Byng High School

Baron Byng High School was an English-language public high school on Saint Urbain Street in Montreal, Quebec, opened by Governor General of Canada Baron Byng de Vimy in 1921.[1] The school was attended largely by working-class Jewish Montrealers from its establishment until the 1960s.[4] Baron Byng High School's alumni include many accomplished academics, artists, businesspeople and politicians.

Baron Byng High School
Baron Byng High School
4251 St. Urbain Street

Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Coordinates45.517403°N 73.583744°W / 45.517403; -73.583744
TypePublic school
MottoLatin: Constants et fidelis
Established1921 (1921)
Closed22 June 1980 (1980-06-22)[1]
School boardProtestant School Board of Montreal
Color(s)             Orange, black and blue
SongEchoes of Byng[2]

Baron Byng has been immortalized in many books, including in Mordecai Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, St. Urbain's Horseman, and Joshua Then and Now as Fletcher's Field High School.[5]


At the beginning of the 20th century, Quebec's confessional school system prohibited Jews from attending French-language Catholic schools, relegating them to Protestant schools.[4] By 1916, Jews made up 44% of the total enrolment in Montreal's English-language Protestant schools. Jewish participation, however, was forbidden on school committees and at the Protestant School Board, and Jewish teachers were discriminated against in terms of employment opportunities.[6] Throughout the period of mass Jewish migration to Montreal, the Board enforced a policy of segregation in its schools.[7]:160

Built by the Protestant School Board in 1921, Baron Byng High School was named in honour of Julian Byng, Governor General of Canada from 1921 to 1926 and a distinguished World War I soldier. The school was designed by Montreal architect John Smith Archibald.[8] The population of Baron Byng was consciously constructed to be Jewish by the Board, which sought to segregate Jews to avoid the dilution of English-Canadian culture and Protestant religious instruction taught in their public schools.[4] From the 1920s through to the mid-1960s, the student population was largely Jewish, reaching 99 per cent by 1938, though the faculty and staff were resolutely English-Canadian.[9][10]

Baron Byng's students went on strike in 1934 to protest the School Board's increase of school fees and reduction in teachers' salaries.[11][12] In April 1945, Baron Byng held a commemorative service for the second anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, sponsored by the Canadian Jewish Congress; speakers included Baruch Zuckerman and Michael Garber.[13]

In the 1960s, there was an influx of Moroccan Jewish students and a French section was created.[14] By the 1970s, there were a significant number of students of Greek and other origins.[14]

Eventually, Quebec Education Laws prohibited the immigrant population from attending English schools. For lack of sufficient enrolment in the school's territory and rising costs, the Protestant School Board was forced to close the school in June 1980.[15][16] After the school's closure, the Baron Byng building became home of the non-profit community organization Sun Youth.[17] An extensive online museum was created in 2016 to honour the school's illustrious history.[18]

Notable people




  1. Schnurmacher, Thomas (16 May 1986). "Class of 1960: Baron Byng Alumni Holding Anniversary Bash". The Montreal Gazette. Montreal. p. C1. ProQuest 431346565.
  2. Clark, P. A. G.; Herbert, D. M. (1944). Echoes of Bang: School Song. Montreal: The Baron Byng High School. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  3. "Yearbooks". Baron Byng High School Museum. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  4. Pinsky, Marian. "Baron Byng High School". Museum of Jewish Montreal. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  5. "Mordecai Richler". Literary Montreal. Véhicule Press. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  6. Celemencki, Jacqueline (2015). Brief History of Antisemitism in Canada (PDF). Montreal: Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre. p. 16. ISBN 978-2-9815152-1-6.
  7. Fraser, David (2015). Honorary Protestants: The Jewish School Question in Montreal, 1867-1997. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-4426-3048-2.
  8. Hill, Robert H. (ed.). "Archibald, John Smith". Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada (1800–1950). Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  9. "What Are They Saying..." Baron Byng High School Museum. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  10. Colombo, John Robert (1984). Canadian Literary Landmarks. Willowvale: Hounslow Press. ISBN 0-88882-073-9.
  11. "Striking Students to Place Pickets". The Globe. Toronto. 20 September 1934. p. 1. ProQuest 1356288366.
  12. MacLeod, Roderick; Poutanen, Mary Anne (Fall 2012). "Little Fists for Social Justice: Anti-Semitism, Community, and Montreal's Aberdeen School Strike, 1913". Labour/Le Travail (70): 64.
  13. "Warsaw Ghetto Martyrs Will Be Remembered". The Canadian Jewish Chronicle. 32 (48). Montreal. 13 April 1945. p. 11.
  14. Arnold, Janice (22 June 2016). "Online museum memorializes Montreal high school". The Canadian Jewish News.
  15. Welik, Myron (10 March 1980). "Duddy Kravitz would shed a tear". Maclean's. p. 27. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  16. Margel, Simon, ed. (1985). Baron Byng High School Class of '60: Silver Anniversary. Montreal: Baron Byng High School. p. 1.
  17. "History". Sun Youth Organization. Archived from the original on 27 January 2007.
  18. Lazarus, David (27 October 2013). "Baron Byng's legacy to be preserved in 'virtual' universe". The Canadian Jewish News.
  19. "Notable Alumni". Baron Byng High School Museum. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  20. Joós, Béla (2015). "Review: Lucky Hazards: My Life in Physics by Meyer Bloom" (PDF). Physics in Canada. 71 (3): 226. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 April 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  21. "Baron Byng's Class of '39 Marks 50th Anniversary". The Montreal Gazette. Montreal. 4 June 1989. p. A3. ProQuest 431810771.
  22. Arnold, Janice (May 1975). "The Grand Baron Byng Reunion" (PDF). The Chronicle Review. pp. 6–15.
  23. "Harold Greenberg Trying to Bring Canadian Talent Back to Canada". Boxoffice. Montreal. 103 (7): K1. 28 May 1973. ProQuest 1476144405.
  24. Rakobowchuk, Peter (25 July 2018). "Montrealer Harry Gulkin was a champion of Canadian film". The Globe and Mail. Toronto.
  25. "Maxwell M. Kalman: A Centennial Retrospective". Canadian Architect. 12 June 2006. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  26. Heft, Harold (10 March 2012). "A poetic warrior for truth". The Montreal Gazette. Montreal. p. E12.
  27. McDougall, Anne (Spring 1977). "Anne Savage". Vie des Arts (in French). 21 (86): 50. ISSN 0042-5435.
  28. Smith, Cameron (1989). Unfinished Journey: The Lewis Family. Toronto: Summerhill Press. ISBN 0-929091-04-3.
  29. Black, Barbara (24 May 2001). "Dr. Lowy is awarded honorary doctorate by McGill". Concordia's Thursday Report. Concordia University. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  30. "Scientist is Latest Baron Byng Grad to Achieve Fame". The Montreal Gazette. Montreal. 17 October 1992. p. A7. ProQuest 432352102.
  31. "Anne Savage". National Gallery of Canada. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  32. Porter, A. (Fall 2017). "Jack Rabinovitch, 1930-2017". Queen's Quarterly. 124 (3): 326–330. ProQuest 1940838311.
  33. "Simon Reisman: Obituary". National Post. 5 April 2008.
  34. Arnold, Janice (16 August 2017). "Mordecai Richler: prized author who didn't care who he offended". The Canadian Jewish News.
  35. "Welcome". Dr. Philip Seeman's Lab. University of Toronto. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  36. Richler, Mordecai (1995). This Year in Jerusalem. Toronto: Vintage Canada. p. 68. ISBN 0-394-28124-1.
  37. Curran, Peggy (15 November 2006). "McGill benefactor intrigued by how the world works". The Montreal Gazette. Montreal. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
  38. Wajsman, Beryl (29 June 2016). "A gathering of eagles". The Suburban. Montreal.

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