Saint John's School of Ontario

Saint John's School of Ontario

Saint John's School of Ontario (SJSO) was the third of three private Anglican boys' boarding school in Toronto founded on conservative Anglican ideas and the notion that children were not challenged by present day society. The others are Saint John's Cathedral Boys' School (Winnipeg, defunct) and Saint John's School of Alberta (still open). The program of the school included academics, outdoor education, and chores. Corporal punishment was a standard part of all three of these schools, though the Alberta School indicates it has given up this method of enforcing discipline. [ [ Saint John's School of Alberta homepage, accessed 10 Aug 2007] ]

The school is best known for the canoeing disaster on Lake Timiskaming on 11 June 1978, where 12 children and 1 volunteer died of hypothermia, after their canoes capsized. Inexperience and poor planning were blamed for the accident according to a book written by James Raffan about the disaster. ["Deep Waters: Courage, Character and the Lake Timiskaming Canoeing Tragedy" by James Raffan, HarperCollins, 2002.] Despite the tragedy, none of the parents of the deceased took legal action against the school. The parents' understanding of the accident contrasts with that put forward in Raffan's book: it was simply a terrible accident; their sons had been the beneficiaries of good education and experiences that, had the canoeing accident not occurred, would have been considered positively.

The school continued to operate for several years but seemed plagued by misfortune, suffering both a fire and a serious car accident in which the headmaster, Frank Felletti, was injured and sidelined. Finally, insufficient operating funds were the cause of the school's demise. The school's closure was a disappointment to supporters, staff and students. In the summer of 2007, alumni from the three St. John's schools gathered for a reunion in Ontario. School alumni have created Facebook group.


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