Birch Cliff PS 100th anniversary

May 4, 2015

The entire Birch Cliff PS student body poses for a photo in June 1923

The entire Birch Cliff PS student body poses for a photo in June 1923


By Sean Mallen

In September of 1916, a new elementary school opened amid orchards and dusty roads in a sleepy, sparsely populated settlement on the outskirts of Toronto.

In September of 2016, Birch Cliff P.S. will mark its 100th  anniversary as an integral part of a vibrant, urban neighbourhood.

The school community has begun preparing for a yearlong celebration of the landmark.

“It’s important that we all recognize the important role that Birch Cliff has played in our community for a hundred years,” said Alison McEvoy, co-chair of the organizing committee.

Birch Cliff Public SchoolSept. 23/24 2016

The school has set aside September 23 and 24, 2016 for the central celebration, including the unearthing of a time capsule, tours of the school with displays of historical pictures and artifacts and an alumni dinner to cap the weekend.

Birch Cliff’s music teacher Amy Ribble even plans to write a new school song, to be performed by a student choir at a ceremony to mark the centenary.

“There were events for the 50th and 75th anniversaries, but already there has been a swelling of support for the centennial,” said committee co-chair Isabella Favaro. “We’ve been contacted by alumni from as far back as the 1950s who want to attend.”

Birch Cliff Public School teamA rich school history

Throughout the school year the students at Birch Cliff will be involved in “spirit days” that will create excitement leading up to the main event.

There will be various art, music, and history projects that will provide an opportunity for the current students to learn of the rich history at the school and the community.

The school’s archives include a journal and scrapbook which have astonishingly detailed and often moving passages that paint a picture of the Birch Cliff story in the early years.

The planning has just begun and the committee wants to hear from alumni and volunteers willing to help.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, May 26 at 6pm in Birch Cliff’s teachers lounge. All are welcome.

For more information contact Alison McEvoy at

To read more about the history of Birch Cliff Public School, click on the links below. You can also scroll down for more photos.

Part I, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Sean Mallen is a communications consultant/media trainer and the former Europe Bureau Chief for Global News.


Senior Class 1918

Senior Class 1918


1980 Class Photo

1980 Class Photo


A journal presented to Birch Cliff Public School on Dec. 31, 1917.  The inscription reads as follows:  "No country, locality nor even family can live up to its best without the possession of some creditable historical record, and it is this that makes it seem an advisable thing to institute a “School History”, of which this book it is hoped may be the first volume, so that matters of interest in connection with the school and its associations may be recorded from time to time"

A journal presented to Birch Cliff Public School on Dec. 31, 1917. The inscription reads as follows: “No country, locality nor even family can live up to its best without the possession of some creditable historical record, and it is this that makes it seem an advisable thing to institute a “School History”, of which this book it is hoped may be the first volume, so that matters of interest in connection with the school and its associations may be recorded from time to time”


In 1941 Birch Cliff students joined others in Toronto to purchase an ambulance for the WWII war effort.

In 1941 Birch Cliff students joined others in Toronto to purchase an ambulance for the WWII war effort.

Birch Cliff Public School


1963 Team - Version 2


Does anybody know what year this photo was taken? Late 1980s?

Does anybody know what year this photo was taken? Late 1980s?

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  1. Hedi Greenwood

    re: Birch Cliff P.S.
    School picture was taken during the 1988-89 year.
    Excellent article.

    • Mike barkic

      1988 there were also aerial photos taken of the school kids forming letters BC

      • Dana Kearns

        There was also one in 1983!

        • Bobbi Webley

          Yes the one in 1983 was taken by the front of the school was it not? Or am I confusing it with the grad photo? I remember both, but may be mixing up the info.

  2. Alison McEvoy

    Excellent article, the exposure will certainly help inform the Community of this wonderful event. Thanks again.

  3. Rev. Barry Kentner

    I joined the “scholastic body” in January1947 as a Grade Fiver. My family moved onto Cornell Avenue just before Christmas 1946. Miss Burrell was my teacher, and our classroom was in a portable. I particularly remember Mr. Brittain in Grade 7, who encouraged me in what later became my vocation….a journalist. I also recall the frustration that I created for Mr. McDermott, who taught what was then called “Manual Training.” He was afraid I was going to seriously injure myself with the tools because I was so clumsey. Later in life I learned that I am dislectic. Soee pretty famous people came out of Birchcliffe Public School…including Hockey great Bobby Baun,

  4. Suzanne (irwin) Smith

    100th anniversary wow. I wouldn’t miss it for anything. Great article

  5. John Hunter

    I graduated as an elementary teacher in 1956 and my first job was at Birch Cliff Public School teaching Grade 5. A new addition was to open that September but it was not ready for use and so my class was located in the school’s gymnasium until later that fall. Scarborough School Inspectors had their offices on the stage of the gymnasium making for some interesting times for a new teacher. I believe my room number was 25 on the second floor of the new addition. Looking forward to coming to the reunion in September 2016, 60 years after I first came.

    • Janice Allen

      I had you as my teacher in 1963 or 64! I remember you were my teacher the year John Kennedy was assassinated. Look forward to seeming you in Septemer!

      • John Hunter

        Hi Janice – That would be November 23, 1963 and as I recall I had taken the class to The Royal Winter Fair and we only learned of the assassination upon returninmg to school. No cellphones existed then!

        • kevin sullivan

          Please Mr. Hunter!! It was 22 November, “a day of infamy that will last forever!as someone once said. I was in your class in 1962=63. We endured the Cuban Missle Crisis that autumn and practiced our nuclear war drills… The next year, with Mr. Ludwig’s class, we also visited the Royal that day. I recall the bus driver telling us of the assassination and, reaching the school, Mr. Wideman sent us all home early. They were frightening times.

          • mike wise

            I remember the event and Mr Ludwig because l was there..Mr. Ludwig a marvelous teacher..he loved art.

          • kevinsullivan

            hi mike – I remember you living on the middle chunk of Kalmar Ave when I lived at # 8 on the southern end. I remember that on our visit to the Royal Winter Fair 9 22nov.63) we all tried getting drunk on the apple cider they sold there.

    • John Dinnick

      Mr. Hunter, you were my Grade 5 teacher in what would probably have been your 2nd year of teaching. You were an inspiration to me, but I particularly recall the music classes you taught, and the 2 part harmony singing. I am delighted to read your note and I definitely plan to attend the 100th anniversary, and hope to meet you again.
      John Dinnick
      May dad was the pastor of Scarborough Baptist Church across Kingston Road at Lakeside Drive.

      • John Hunter

        I do remember you John & that your father was a minister. Those were the days when elementary teachers were responsible for teaching every subject. Music was not my favourite subject to teach.

  6. Wayne Martin

    Attended Birch Cliff from 1957 through 1963 with a lot of fond memories.. Noticed Mr. Lorne Wideman in the 1963 picture… our very stern and considerate principal during those years. Mr. Wideman would hit fly balls at lunch time to a group of boys holding up his hand on occasion to signal that a caught ball would be worth 5, 10 or possibly 25 cents to the successful catcher. Mr. deBrower, an exchange teacher from Australia was a favourite recanting stories of his homeland and setting a seed to one day visit which we did a few years ago.
    Definitely will mark on my calendar for next year… Cheers.. Wayne Martin

    • Rick Wallace

      Are you the Wayne Martin who lived on Cornell Rd.? If so, I don’t recognize you in that softball photo. I think Bill Wallace must be front row, #5 from the left, next to Brian Hopkins,#6. I think #4’s name may be Ross McHardy, but I’m not sure. Are you #3?

      • Wayne Briscoe

        Hi Rick,
        Ross McCardy is the fourth from the left in the photo. I contacted him last summer by email. He lives in Ottawa now.
        I told him about the reunion in September.

        Wayne Briscoe

        • Rick Wallace

          Wayne, do you know which guy is Wayne Martin? Is it #3? in the front? I dated Eleanor Martin from Cornell Rd. in 1964/1965, and her next younger sibling was Wayne Martin, but I don’t think he’s in this photo, although I think the age would be close to correct.

          • Wayne Briscoe

            Rick, I think the guy left of Ross was Rick Bain?
            Do you know who the guy is beside Wideman. I know the face.

          • Rick Wallace

            Wayne,I believe that is Steve Trowbridge beside Mr. Wideman.

          • Wayne Briscoe

            Sorry Rick
            I was hoping Ross McHardy knew which one could have been W Martin. He doesnt remember anyone.
            I remember the name but not the face.
            Wayne B

        • Ross McHardy

          That is me in the centre. Wow….. Don’t remember anyone else except Mr. Wideman…

          • kevin sullivan

            the first row 2d from right is Dougie Swailes(sic) and the last on the right is -Lorne Trotter, sans glasses. Mr Hose and Mr Breault hover over them…

      • John Dinnick

        Hi Rick. I have had contact with you through on a couple of occasions. I haven’t been able to access any of the postings of late.

    • mike wise

      Mr deBrower coached the boys soccer which i played on. He was a great teacher and he use be really good at throwing chalk at anybody who was talking or not paying attention, which often me…cheers

  7. Wayne Briscoe

    I remember lining up in two every morning and marching in to the sound of music piaying from a werlizer every day.
    Those of us who were bad were sent to Widemans office for the slugs as we called them back then. A black strap was given to us by Wideman on our open hands. Man did that hurt. Try to do that nowadays! Fond memories.


      ya the band marches in the morning and the lethal strap the more yoy laughed the more you got then mr wideman would take us down to the lakeshore to watch a double header baseball game wow

    • yep that marching all those years made me feel like a soldier and that strap lol if we giggled we got more

  8. Judy Fowler

    I was a student from 1955 (grade 4) until graduation in 1959.
    Grade 4 – Miss Hardy (Mr. Hunter was a student teacher in this class)
    Grade 5 – Mr Hunter (commented above)
    Grade 6/7 – Mr. Guthrie
    Grade 8 – Mr Livingston (Miss Morrow for some classes)

    Mr. Wideman was the principal and his son Ron was in some of my classes.
    Looking forward to the celebration
    Judy Fowler (nee Laycock)

  9. Stephen Partridge

    I am the one with no B.C.on the sweater in the 1963 baseball pic.

    • Wayne Martin

      Stephen …
      And I am near the banner… With my buddy Bill Wallace. .great memories! And still playing masters SloPitch.

      Cheers.. Wayne Martin

  10. Steve Mcclay

    Well I was 3rd generation that went to the school and I always heard amazing stories from my family about this school and I myself have wonderful memories

  11. Dana Kearns

    My grandfather was born the same year Birch Cliff opened, and he and my grandmother met there. Guess I have the school to thank for my existence! 🙂

  12. Dave Baird

    graduated from Birchcliff in 1967 when my brother Bill and I ran around the outfield the distance to Montreal in celebration of EXPO 67. My neighbour and principal Lorne Wideman gave us an award and an article was in the Toronto paper. Will be attending the anniversary with my daughter Jenn who also attended her entire elementary education at Birchcliff.

  13. Ross McHardy

    Wow that is me front row 4th from the left. I don’t remember anyone else except Mr. Wideman……..

  14. Judy Fergusson English

    I attended from Sept 1945 til graduation in June1953. David Baird, I was in your sister Peggy’s class many years. Steve Partridge, I recognized you in the baseball picture, also Steve Trowbridge, also Rick Smith. I have some of my class pictures and remember all of my teachers. My two children went there as well.

    • Stephen Partridge

      Hi Judy, iremember you and your family. it was a great

    • Stephen Partridge

      Thanks Liz. That is very hart warming. We will see you in Sept. P.S. Say hi to Carl tell him life is good…

      • dave baird

        I will let Peggy know… did you live on Birchcliff south of Kingston rd? If so I went to Birchmount and U of t with your younger bros.

  15. Steve Trowbridge

    I remember the Birch Cliff school days what a great time period to remember . Mr Wideman out in the field hitting the ball , it was a nickel a catch . Looking forward to September , you never know who you will meet .

    • John Wales

      I used to catch some of the fly ball from Mr. Wideman, along with my buddy Lenord Ball

      John Wales

      • Shirley Wareham

        john, did you live on hollis near birchmount? I also lived on hollis. Where have the years gone.

  16. kevin sullivan

    the last two boys on the far right of the first row would be Doug Swales and, the last one, Lorne Trotter. the two teachers are Mr. Hose and, at the end, Mr. Breault. Steve Partridge taught Mr. Breault the Twist at our end of school party in June 1962.

  17. Bev (Ware) Nettleton

    Hi The Back Row is definitely Stephen Trowbridge then Tommy Peaker Don’t know the next one, then Steve Partridge, Mr. Ian Hose. Bottom row Rick Sluman, Ross McHardy in the middle and second from the end was Doug Swales. I think

    • Bruce D. Roadhouse

      Bev, I did not know you well, but I knew Mike quite well. We were not pals but we lived close by. I lived on Rhydwen Ave. Mike had a great band and I last saw them play at the battle of the bands over at the arena. We all thought that his group should have won. Does Mike live in the
      Toronto area? Was he buddies with Alan Parkinson?
      Hope you’r well.
      Bruce Roadhouse

      • kevin sullivan

        My older brother Hugh Sullivan played drums in a band called The Tenants with Mike Ware. The name was practical, since they could take publicity shots in front of PARKING LOT wall marked “TENANTS ONLY”! The guys were 16-18 I believe. They were offered a recording contract with Arc Records but my Dad – a professional musician – refused to sign for my brother. The others signed but, from what I understand, they were locked in for 5 years and this affected their careers after the group broke up. It also gave my brother one more reason to argue with my Dad! Hugh went on to play with Don Troiano in Mandela and Bush, and later with Steppenwolf’s leader John Kay in his solo band.

  18. I attended Birch Cliff PS from Grade 2 to Grade 8 in 1945.
    Wondering who else in my age group might be planning to attend the re-union?

    I see comments from “Dave Baird”, maybe related to Dave I knew from High School and UofT.
    Also while 5 or 6 years younger than me, I knew Bob Baun and worked for his father at his auto garage at N/E corner of Kingston Rd and Cornell – P/T while attending UofT.

    Classmates were Jim Henderson, Ron Barton, John Bond, Stan Hulbert, Jack Butler

    • dave baird

      No wrong Dave…I graduated from Birchcliff in 1967…but my older sister Peggy Baird remembers Bobby Baun from her days at the school.

  19. Shirley Wareham

    went to birch cliff 1950 – 1954. Mr. Wideman, Mrs. Sutter, Mr. Waters, Miss Morrow. Lived on Hollis Ave. My kids also went from kindergarden to grade 8. Have pictures of my classes. will bring to reunion. Wonderful memories.

  20. Sharron Norman

    Steve Partridge and Steve Trowbridge – Remember you from Dunnington Dr. Judy Fergusson, Carl Colbran and Glen Boon were at the 100th – missed seeing you. Barbara Hopkins could not make it. Birch Cliff PS was the best school ever. I was there 1949 to 1958.

    • kevin sullivan

      are you related at all to Gerry Norman who lived on Dunnington in the mid 1960s?

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