Lisgar Collegiate Institute

Lisgar Collegiate Institute is an Ottawa-Carleton District School Board secondary school in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Lisgar Collegiate Institute
29 Lisgar Street

, ,
Coordinates45°25′14.2″N 75°41′17.0″W
Funding typePublic
MottoAlere Flammam
(Nourish the Flame)
School boardOttawa Carleton District School Board
SuperintendentWalter Piovesan
Area trusteeJennifer McKenzie[1]
AdministratorKim Ironmonger-Wong
PrincipalPatsy Agard[2]
Vice PrincipalsSherri Tanner
Kaarina Gagner [2]
Colour(s)Blue, Silver         
Team nameLords
YearbookVox Lycei
Communities servedSandy Hill, New Edinburgh, Centretown, Rockcliffe Park, Ontario
Public transit accessLine 1 station uOttawa. Also served by routes 5 and 14[3]
School presidentsSiena van der Pol
Daniel Fonseca

Lisgar Collegiate Institute is located in downtown Ottawa by the Rideau Canal and is only a few blocks away from Canada's Parliament Hill. Lisgar was ranked 24th among all secondary schools in Ontario and 1st in Ottawa by the Fraser Institute in 2017/18.[4] The school serves the neighbourhoods of Sandy Hill, New Edinburgh, Centretown, and Rockcliffe Park, and has many students transferring from other areas, attracted by the school's reputation and prestige. In previous years, parents and students have camped out overnight to secure a "coveted transfer spot" to Lisgar, causing some controversy in the news.[5] Lisgar is known for its gifted student program, and was ranked number one for public schools in Ottawa and 4th in the province by the Fraser Institute in 2016.[1][6][7] Its Reach for the Top team won the Canadian national finals in the 2008, 2015 and 2017 seasons. Lisgar has also won the National and International Whiz Quiz Trivia Challenge for the past two years[8] Lisgar's Improv team is also well known for its continued excellence in the Canadian Improv Games, winning the National Tournament back to back in 1999 and 2000 and qualifying for the Canadian National tournament every year since 2004.[9] Lisgar is also home to the student-run Ottawa-Carleton Educational Space Simulation.[10]


In 1843, a grammar school with 40 paying students was opened in the Sandy Hill area of Ottawa in a house at the corner of Waller Street and Daly Avenue. In 1859, the school became one of the first in Ontario to admit girls. The school changed locations several times in the first few years, and was renamed first Bytown Grammar School and later Ottawa Grammar School. In 1871 the school was raised to a high school and in 1873 to a collegiate institute, becoming Ottawa Collegiate Institute.

The school found a permanent home in 1873 when a lot at what was then the southern edge of the city was purchased. The school board acquired the land on Biddy Street for $3,200 and paid a squatter $100 to give up any claims on the land. Biddy Street was renamed Lisgar Street in 1880 after Lord Lisgar, an Irishman who served as Canada's second Governor-General. A Gothic Revival style structure, designed by W.T. Thomas and W. Chesterton, was built at a cost of $26,000. Governor General Lord Dufferin (another Irishman) laid the cornerstone and the school opened in 1874.

In 1892, the school became the first public secondary school in Ontario to hire a female teacher.[11] Four new classrooms were added on the south side in 1892, moving the front wall towards the street and enclosing the front entrance stairs.

A fire in 1893 caused the school to be temporarily closed. Lisgar was one of a limited number of buildings to survive the Great Ottawa fire. There have been a total of 23 fires at the school, including three major ones: 1893, 1915, and 1942.

In 1903, the east wing was built with eight new classrooms. In 1908, Ottawa architect Edgar Lewis Horwood added a west wing with laboratories, an auditorium, and the main tower.[12] The auditorium balcony is suspended by iron rods which lead to huge beams above the ceiling.

A rifle range for the cadet corps, in the now blocked-off fifth-floor attic, was added in 1912. Students practised shooting there until after World War II when shooting moved to the nearby Cartier Square drill hall.

A basement cafeteria was added in 1923. After the school was split in 1922 to form Glebe Collegiate Institute, OCI was renamed Ottawa Lisgar Street Collegiate Institute, which was soon shortened to Lisgar Collegiate Institute. Officially, the school remained OCI for several decades. Since the split, Glebe and Lisgar have been traditional rivals.[13][14]

In 1951, a new gymnasium was built across the street with a tunnel connecting it to the main building. The tunnel was not open for the use of students for many years, but it was re-opened in October 2015. The new building was enlarged in 1962. The old gym was turned into what is now the cafeteria. The old building and the newer building are now referred to as the North and South buildings, respectively.

In 1953, the current, near-vertical roof was installed over the previous sloping roof. This was done to reduce the build-up of winter ice. The old roof is still there and there is an odd-shaped attic space between them.

In 1957, Lisgar was the first school in Ontario to introduce a special program for gifted students.

In the 1970s, a cash-strapped Ottawa Board of Education decided to close the school and sell its valuable downtown real estate. This action was blocked by community members and alumni, and the school was completely renovated instead.[15] This renovation included a small westward extension to the auditorium to add fire exits which replaced external fire exits on the north side of the auditorium. To meet fire code requirements, the existing west staircase was moved from the stair tower westward to just beside the entrance to the auditorium. The result is that now many windows on the north wall do not line up as intended. The windows in the stair tower had been placed a half-way between floors to align with the landings. These windows now lead into classrooms and floor-aligned windows lead into the stairway.

In 1996, the third floor of the North building was completely renovated and the science labs were modernized. In March 2003, parts of the first and second floors and the basement of the North building were damaged by a water main break that closed the school for a week, coincidentally before the previously-scheduled March Break, thus giving the students two weeks off school. Some minor changes were made to the affected floors in the reconstruction.

Memorial Hall

A brass plaque and print were erected by students and alumni in 1986 to Sergeant Edward James Gibson Holland, VC of The Royal Canadian Dragoons, a graduate of Ottawa Collegiate who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery in action during the Boer War at Leliefontein, Komati River, South Africa on November 7, 1900.[16]

The Ottawa Lisgar Collegiate Institute erected a brass plaque which is dedicated to the memory of students of Ottawa Collegiate Institute who gave their lives in the Great War.[17] Another memorial is dedicated to the memory of Lieutenant Alexis Hannum Helmer who was killed in action during the war and was part of the inspiration for In Flanders Fields. Unveiled in 2001, the plaque was erected by the Lisgar Alumni Association.[18]

Another memorial plaque is dedicated to the memory of former Lisgar students who died during the Second World War.[19] A memorial framed poster erected by the school is dedicated to the sixteen Canadians awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery during the Second World War.[20]

Lisgar Collegiate Institute and Vintage Wings of Canada erected a memorial plaque, unveiled in 2008, dedicated to the memory of Pilot Officer David Francis Gaston Rouleau, who died during the Second World War while trying to get to Malta.[21]

The Lisgar Collegiate Institute erected a memorial which is dedicated to the memory of former Lisgar students who died or served during the Korean War.[22]

The Lisgar Collegiate Institute erected a memorial frame including a Canadian flag which was flown in Afghanistan which was presented to Lisgar by LCol Plourde.[23]


Students have frequently placed highly in mathematics competitions. Lisgar students take part in the University of Waterloo contests, the Canadian Open Mathematics Challenge, the Canadian Math Olympiad, and the AMC 12. For instance, they have frequently placed in the top ten amongst Canadian Mathematical Olympiad Winners.

Students also take part in a lot of science contests. Lisgar offers the chance to take the University of Toronto Biology Exam (national competition), Avogadro Chemistry Contest, and Physics Contests. Many students have placed in the 90th percentile and above on these contests.

Lisgar has been the home of the Ottawa-Carleton Educational Space Simulation since 1990. The school is the only one in the region and one of the few in Canada to run such a program. Lisgar was also one of the original members of the now-defunct International Student Space Simulation.


Lisgar has a huge selection of ensembles to take part in. These include the Concert Band (Beginner level), Wind Ensemble (Intermediate Level), Symphonic Winds (Senior Level), Concert Orchestra (Beginner level), Sinfonia (Intermediate level orchestra), the Lisgar Symphony Orchestra (Senior level), String Ensemble, Choir, and Junior and Senior Jazz Bands. In total, there are 10 different groups. These groups take part in many music competitions, including the Ottawa Kiwanis Music Festival, where Lisgar has often taken home gold. Every year, there are two major performances given by all the ensembles, Winter and Spring Music Nights (in December and May). At these performances, students have the chance to demonstrate the skills they have achieved throughout the year to their parents and other spectators.


Lisgar has a large athletics department. Some of the sports Lisgar participates in include Rugby, Soccer, Hockey, Basketball, Rowing, Cross Country, and many others. Each year, tens of athletes are invited to city finals, and provincial finals in their respective sports, and each year, students bring home awards and medals.

Athletic Wall of Fame

One of the many successful under-takings of the 160th Reunion was the establishment of the "Athletic Wall of Fame".[24] There have been three inductions to date, with the third group inducted during the 175th Reunion in May 2018.

2004 Inductees [24]

  • Petra Cada (1996), a distinguished international career, competed in both the 1996 Atlanta and 2004 Athens Olympics in table tennis.
  • Joan Fisher (1967), former Head Girl, an outstanding sprinter who highlighted her career by competing in the Mexico Olympics.
  • Justice Hugh Fraser (1970), outstanding career as a sprinter at the international and Olympic level, and, among other things, for his work on the Dubin Commission and at the International Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.
  • Anne Heggtveit (1957), won Olympic gold in the slalom at the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics.
  • Donald Jackson (1957), won bronze in the 1960 Olympics and gold as the 1962 world champion in figure skating.
  • Bruce Kirby (1948), Former Head Boy, a three-time Olympian in sailing who is equally well-known as a yacht designer, with the laser design and both Canada 1 and Canada 2 to his credit.
  • Paul Paddon (1965), quarterback University of Ottawa to the Vanier Cup final and awarded the Hec Crighton Trophy as Canada’s outstanding university football player.
  • Pat Stoqua (1976), who went on to an outstanding university career at Carleton in both football and basketball, and played six years of professional football for the Ottawa Rough Riders.
  • Linda Thom (1958), gold medal winner in pistol shooting at the 1984 Olympics.
  • Joe Zelikovitz (1934), an outstanding multi-sport athlete at Lisgar, who went on to a successful career in professional football for the Ottawa Rough Riders, where he still holds the CFL record for interceptions in a single game (seven).

2009 Inductees [25]

2018 Inductees [26]

  • Marjorie Blackwood (1974), national champion tennis player, longtime coach, and member of the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame.
  • Frank Boucher (1937), manager/coach of the 1948 Olympic Champion RCAF Flyers.
  • Ron Byrnes (1962), single game record of 61 points in Ottawa Junior Basketball in the 1950s still stands.
  • Peter Chance (1939), a national champion Junior figure skater in both singles and pairs whose career was cut short by WWII and a subsequent distinguished Royal Canadian Navy career.
  • Ajay Dubé (1978), multi-Olympic Canadian Field Hockey Team player and team manager.
  • Bill Fraser (1961), teacher 1965-99, athlete, Lisgar faculty member, and long-time dedicated coach of Lisgar teams in many sports.
  • Halvor Heggtveit (1923), national ski champion, coach and Olympic Team member.
  • Brian Kilrea (1950), AHL/IHL/WHA/NHL player; legendary coach and general manager of the Ottawa 67's; member of the Ottawa Sports, AHL, and Hockey Halls of Fame.
  • Jon Love (1972), multi-sport player and coach, record-setting basketballer, and member of the Carleton Ravens Hall of Fame.
  • Pat Lowe (1949), ranked no. 1 in Canadian Junior and Senior Women’s Tennis in the 1940s and 50s.
  • Bill Pratt (1948), chair of the Calgary Olympics, co-founder of the Canada Trail, and member of both the Olympic Order and the Order of Canada.

Advanced Placement courses

Lisgar Collegiate Institute offers many Advanced Placement courses. Apart from Advanced Placement Latin: Vergil and Advanced Placement Spanish, students taking AP courses take an advanced form of a regular course, which provides them with an Ontario Credit, as well as taking the AP exam in May. As of 2016, Lisgar inaugurated its AP Capstone Program which requires students to take AP Seminar and AP Research as well as four other AP Courses with a score greater than 3.


Lisgar has a wide variety of clubs available to its students, including:

Lisgar's Student Council consists of 30 executive member positions. These include the Co-Presidents, Student Senator, Administrator, Communications Director, and 6 elected grade representatives, with 5 committees consisting of the remaining 19 positions. Student Council is responsible for running a variety of school-wide events and activities throughout the course of the school year, including the well-known Annual United Way Pancake Breakfast, the week-long 'Battle of the Grades', and the Canned Food Drive for the Ottawa Centretown Food Bank.

In 2006, the school's Reach for the Top team became the first Canadian team to participate in the NAQT High School National Championships, placing 25th. In 2008, the Lisgar Reach team became the first team to qualify for both the Canadian Reach for the Top finals and the NAQT High School National Championships in Chicago, placing second in Ontario for Reach and first in their qualifying division (Ottawa) for NAQT. Electing to attend the Reach Nationals in Edmonton, Lisgar came from behind to beat two-time champion University of Toronto Schools 420–415 for the national title. In 2010, Lisgar was able to qualify two teams for the NAQT Chicago tournament.

Lisgar's Improv Team, founded in 1997 and affectionately known as 'Jimmy', has a reputation for being of the highest calibre. Regular attendees of the National Festival of the Canadian Improv Games and National Champions in 1999, 2000, and 2014, Jimmy has been a pillar of the Ottawa Improv community for years.[27]

Notable alumni

See also


  1. "Ottawa-Carleton District School Board / Community Corner / School Programs". Archived from the original on 2010-07-04. Retrieved 2010-06-23.
  2. "Staff - Lisgar CI".
  3. "OC Transpo System Map" (PDF). OC Transpo. 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2011-12-25.
  4. "Lisgar Collegiate Institute Ottawa Ontario Academic school ranking". Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  5. "Fraser Institute high school rankings 2008" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  6. Czekaj, Laura (2008-03-31). "Local school bumps up grade". Ottawa Sun.
  7. Reach For The Top National Champions 1998–2010 Archived 2009-02-13 at the Wayback Machine
  8. "Canadian Improv Games". Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  9. "< - - - - - - >". Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  10. "Home - Lisgar CI". Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  11. Edgar Lewis Horwood
  12. "Home - Lisgar CI" (PDF). Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  13. Finnigan, Joan; Association, Lisgar Alumni (12 November 1993). "Lisgar Collegiate Institute, 1843-1993". Lisgar Alumni Association. Retrieved 12 November 2017 via Google Books.
  14. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-05-29. Retrieved 2014-05-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. "Holland memorial: Lisgar Collegiate Institute: Memorial 35059-056 Ottawa, ON". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  16. "First World War memorial (names of the fallen): Memorial Hall, Lisgar Collegiate Institute: Memorial 35059-170 Ottawa, ON". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  17. "Helmer memorial: Memorial Hall, Lisgar Collegiate Institute: Memorial 35059-169 Ottawa, ON". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  18. "Second World War memorial (names of the fallen): Memorial Hall, Lisgar Collegiate Institute: Memorial 35059-168 Ottawa, ON". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  19. "Second World War Victoria Crosses: Memorial Hall, Lisgar Collegiate Institute: Memorial 35059-167 Ottawa, ON". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  20. "Rouleau memorial: Memorial Hall, Lisgar Collegiate Institute: Memorial 35059-166 Ottawa, ON". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  21. "Korean War memorial: Memorial Hall, Lisgar Collegiate Institute: Memorial 35059-165 Ottawa, ON". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  22. "Canadian flag memorial: Memorial Hall, Lisgar Collegiate Institute: Memorial 35059-164 Ottawa, ON". National Inventory of Canadian Military Memorials. Veterans Affairs Canada. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  23. Alere Flammam, Lisgar Alumni Association Newsletter, Fall 2004
  24. Alere Flammam, Lisgar Alumni Association Newsletter, Fall 2009
  25. Alere Flammam, Lisgar Alumni Association Newsletter, Winter 2018
  26. Ottawa Improv
  27. Canadian Women in Film, Collections Canada Archived 2009-09-16 at the Wayback Machine
  28. Kennedy, Mark (1 December 2015). "Dominic LeBlanc is Trudeau's go-to guy. Here's why". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  29. "Hot List: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip - Matthew Perry". Archived from the original on 2017-11-12. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  • By Ottawa Collegiate Institute. Ex-pupils' (January 12, 2010), A History Of The Ottawa Collegiate Institute 1843–1903 By Ottawa Collegiate Institute. Ex-pupils', Ottawa, Ontario: BiblioLife This is a reproduction of a book published before 1923.
  • By Lisgar Collegiate Centenary Committee (1943), Lisgar Collegiate Centenary: 1843-1943, Ottawa, Ontario: Lisgar Alumni Association, Lisgar Collegiate Institute (Ottawa, Ont.)
  • By Lisgar Alumni Association' (1993), A History Of Lisgar Collegiate Institute, 1843-1993, Ottawa, Ontario: Lisgar Alumni Association, Lisgar Collegiate Institute (Ottawa, Ont.)
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