Elizabeth Ballantyne Elementary School marks Centennial today
Elizabeth Ballantyne Elementary School in Montreal West marked its centennial by celebrating the past, all the while looking ahead to the future.
Students (all decked out in purple t-shirts), staff, dignitaries and other invited guests gathered outside the front entrance of the school to help uncover a time capsule buried in front of the building in May of 1997. It was initially buried in celebration of Elizabeth Ballantyne’s then-75th anniversary, in conjunction with the Town of Montreal West’s centennial.
The contents of the time capsule included a newspaper, daily attendance register, pictures, student letters, an Elizabeth Ballantyne t-shirt and a book.
Peggy Wadsworth and Carol Morrison, both former students and teachers at Elizabeth Ballantyne, were some of the special guests in attendance. After attending the school herself in the 1940s, Ms. Wadsworth returned to teach at Elizabeth Ballantyne for 19 years.
For Ms. Morrison, her affiliation with Elizabeth Ballantyne School dates back even further. Her parents Stanley and Eileen Highway, along with her uncle Gordon, were all former students prior to Ms. Morrison’s own stint at the school through Grade 4. She would return to teach all grade levels at the school for 25 years, specializing in helping students who had behavioral issues and/or trouble reading. Ms. Morrison, who now resides in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, says she would not have missed this celebration for the world.
“It is so very nice to be here today,” said Ms. Morrison. “I can’t believe how smooth the gym floor is! I know my father would have loved to be here too.”
A new time capsule was buried in its place to be opened in 25 years time. Students wrote letters about what they think Montreal and Elizabeth Ballantyne will look like in 2047 for inclusion in the time capsule. Masks, hand sanitizers, and rapid tests were also included as a nod to COVID-19, along with a newspaper, cap, and staff photo, among other items.
“We are excited to leave our mark for the next generation to discover 25 years from now,” said Principal Christina Chilelli. “Boys and girls, we are making history today.”
“This is a very special occasion,” said EMSB Director General Nick Katalifos. “We are celebrating not only the 100th anniversary of Elizabeth Ballantyne School, but we are celebrating this incredible school community.”
Following the ceremony, all guests were invited back into the school gymnasium for a trip down memory lane. Old photographs and photo albums were on display highlighting the school’s rich history and alumni over the years.
The centennial celebrations were organized and planned by Ms. Chilelli and her committee of teachers, school secretary and childcare workers.
The School’s Evolution
The land on Northview Avenue, on which Elizabeth Ballantyne School still stands, was first purchased in 1921 for $0.45 per square foot. Construction on the school’s first wing consisting of eight new classrooms soon began, with the work completed in March of 1922.
The school is named for Miss Elizabeth Gordon-Watt Ballantyne (1851-1918), a member of the Montreal West Community who taught for the Protestant Board of School Commissioners for thirty years. She was the sister of James Ballantyne, who served as mayor of Montreal West between 1911 and 1927.
“The population has changed over the years, but the school has modified with the times,” said Stéphane Fortin, physical education teacher at Elizabeth Ballantyne for the past 32 years. “It’s a nice neighborhood and community. I love the facilities. We’re a big family. It’s my second home.”
Mr. Fortin, who also once taught French at the school, points to the dedicated principals and staff over the years as hallmarks of the school. He also credits the parents’ involvement through Home and School and other initiatives with the school’s longevity.
Ms. Chilelli may have only begun at the school last August, but she, too, recognizes what makes Elizabeth Ballantyne so special.
“The staff go above and beyond because of the unique clientele that we have here,” said Ms. Chilelli. “Over the years, the school has done a great job transitioning into a core school and being able to meet the needs of the diverse school community. It is a testament to the staff. The parents recognize that our school is the place to help their child with their individual needs.”
Here are links to some media coverage:
About the English Montreal School Board
With a youth and adult sector population of more than 35,000 students, the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is the largest English public school board in Quebec. Established on July 1, 1998, when the province created new boards along linguistic lines, the EMSB network consists of 77 schools and centres. For more details, visit the EMSB website at www.emsb.qc.ca.