EVEN at this comparatively early date in its history, Trinity College School has become an institution of note all over the world, whilst its renown has been reflected in some measure on the Town in which its imposing building stands. Known to fame as the ” Eton of Canada,” it possesses school-boy traditions and associations which render this name most appropriate. During its thirty-three years’ presence in Port Hope it has provided Canada and the Empire with a fair proportion of their leading men, and it is with an enviable pride that this Town can regard these graduates of the college, as in some degree her own sons.
The School had its origin in the village of Weston in the year 1865 but, owing to the liberal offers of assistance tendered by the citizens of Port Hope, it was removed thither in 1868, where buildings were provided free of rent for three years. The Rev. C. H. Badgley, B.A., Oxon. was then Head Master and was assisted by a staff of nine instructors, three being resident. The dormitories were situated in the old Ward Homestead, on the site of the present School building and were capable of accommodating sixty boys, whilst the tuitional portion of the work was carried on in the Meredith Block, from which the Union Sch0ol had recently moved.
Such was the condition of the infant institution when the man who was destined to raise it to its present high level was appointed Head Master in 1870. This was the Rev. Charles J. S. Bethune, D.C.L., third son of that Rev. A. N. Bethune* who years before had officiated in St. John’s Church. Dr. Bethune was born at West Flamboro, August 11th, 1838, and received his education at Upper Canada College and Trinity University. He was ordained a priest in 1862 and for the following eight years remained in the service of the Church. Then came his appointment to the School in Port Hope. He immediately set himself to the task of building up a permanent institution there, having as a nucleus the thirty boys who attended the School at his coming. The first step was the purchase in 1871 of ten acres of land, where the School now stands. Then followed the erection of the central portion of the old building. This was designed by H. McDougall, Esq., was of the Elizabeth- an style of architecture and was first used in January 1872. The almost insuperable difficulty before this undertaking lay in the fact that all the requisite funds had to be raised by subscription, there being no endowment. Still Dr. Bethune accomplished the task satisfactorily.
By an act of the Legislature of Ontario, passed during the session of 1871-72, Trinity College School was constituted a corporate body and then began its days of rapid progress. An attendance of seventy boys in 1872 was increased to ninety-six in 1873, and to one hundred and fourteen in 1874. Meanwhile work on the Chapel and Dining Hall had been in progress during 1873. These were contained in an addition built of red brick with white brick facings to the east of the School. The Dining Hall was opened on Nov. 5th, 1873 by the Most Reverend A. Oxenden, Lord Bishop of Montreal and Metropolitan. It consisted of the hall proper, 63×21 feet, and a recess for the high table 19×15 feet. On March 29th, 1874 the Chapel was dedicated by the Lord Bishop of Toronto. It consisted of a nave 75×21 feet and a chancel terminating in an apse 25×19 feet, and was capable of containing two hundred persons. During the following three years the chancel was richly adorned and beautified with exquisite carved work and the completed Chapel was re-opened on October 18th, 1877.
In 1874 the western porti0n of the old School was completed and the building assumed the imposing appearance which it was to bear for many years. The finished structure had a frontage of three hundred feet to the south and eighty feet to the west, and sixty-two thousand dollars had been expended in its erection. A further addition of ten acres was made to the School property the following year, supplying ample room for sports of all kinds.
The progress of the School was now uninterrupted and by the session of 1878-79 there were one hundred and forty pupils in attendance. The decade from 188o to 1890 was not marked by any eventful happenings, but the School was quietly building up that reputation on the athletic field and in the academic hall which it still maintains. In the year 1891 the gymnasium to the north of the present building was erected. It was built after the plans of Messrs. Darling and Curry of Toronto and formed a novel and striking addition to the College buildings. Its dimensions are about eighty feet by fifty, and it consists of two stories, being well equipped with all the necessary adjuncts of a gymnasium.
About this time the School entered upon a period of decline. For two years Dr. Bethune ceased to be Head Master, and, though still known as Warden, he had little to do with the life of the School. His place was taken by the Rev. Arthur Lloyd.
On April 27th, 1893, a fire of a most threatening nature was discovered about noon on the upper flat. After most heroic efforts on the part of firemen, school-boys and townsmen the building was saved. However scarcely a week had passed before another blaze of still more alarming proportions again threatened the building but fortunately without serious results. The final destruction of the old School occurred on Sunday morning, Feb. 16th, 1895. The whole building with all its treasured associations was consumed in one of the worst conflagrations known in Port Hope’s history. The loss occasioned was fully $80,000. Notwithstanding this calamity, the School did not become extinct. For a short period the boys were quartered on the townspeople until the St. Lawrence Hall was fitted up for their accommodation. At the same time a new School, larger and better equipped than its predecessor, was got under way.
Messrs. Darling, Sproat & Pearson of Toronto supplied the plans for a $90,000 building. This structure to-day occupies the site of the old School. It is of the same length as the former building but in breadth and height it far exceeds it. It is almost perfectly fire-proof, being divided into five fire-proof sections. The Chapel yet remains in an incomplete condition but fortunately it contains the beautiful carved choir seats and the lectern rescued from its predecessor. A new pipe organ was erected in the Chapel in 1899 in memory of R. H. Bethune, late General Manager of the Dominion Bank, of his wife and of Harriet Alice Mary Bethune, wife of the Head Master, who was accidentally killed in 1898.
At the close of the School-year 1898-9, Dr. Bethune again resigned from the School and retired to live in London, Ontario. He has been succeeded in turn by the Rev. R. Edmonds Jones, M.A. and by the Rev. Herbert Symonds, D.D., appointed Head Master in the present year.
To attempt to enumerate all the Old Boys who have risen to prominence would be beyond the scope of this work but they are so numerous and well-known, that such a task would be rendered useless. The brilliant record of those Old Boys who have devoted themselves, as so many Trinity Boys have done, to the military profession, is also known to fame. In the late South African Campaign, over forty served in the British lines against the Boers, nineteen of whom held commissions. Two of this brave companyLieut. Osborne and Sergt. Evatthave died in that far-away country.