January 29, 2023


Old Fredericton High School (York House)

Old Fredericton High School (York House)

A Baptist seminary was built on this location in 1836, but was later torn down and replaced by the present structure designed by J.C. Dumaresq, who was also the architect of the Provincial Legislature and many other prominent public buildings in the Maritime Provinces.

The carved front arch keystone proclaims the inauguration of construction in 1891, and after opening in 1893 this building was the Fredericton High School until 1925, possessing some of the finest brickwork in Fredericton. 

Old Fredericton High School (York House)

The following history of FHS was written by Mary Hall, FHS Library Assistant.

In 1785, Colonel Thomas Carleton, the newly appointed governor, was so impressed with St. Anne’s Point that he made it his headquarters. One month later, he renamed the place Fredericton, and announced that it was to become the Capital of the Province. As he began to govern the Province as a military establishment, he had a new survey of the capital completed. Land was set aside for military purposes, a public common, a farmers market, the Church of England and a School. The new School would eventually become known as Fredericton High School.

Fredericton High School and the University of New Brunswick began in the same little wooden building located near the banks of the Saint John River. Known as the Provincial Academy of Arts and Sciences, it was entirely Anglican in its operation and entirely classical in its curriculum. Only a few male scholars were involved and girls were not admitted. UNB Saint John recently reported a Male/Female ratio of 50/50, so times certainly have changed!

Although they started out sharing the same little wooden building on the banks of the St. John River, Fredericton High School and The University of New Brunswick both needed room to expand. By 1829 the University was established on the hillside and the academy had moved to a new site on Brunswick Street. The new School was to become known as the Collegiate Grammar School. Two red-brick buildings are all that remain of Fredericton High School in the older part of the city: the old York Street School on the site of the old Baptist Seminary and the George Street School (now a middle school) on the site of the old Park Barracks.

On November 19, 1829, Regulations for the Collegiate Grammar School at Fredericton were approved by the Council of King’s College. The Regulations stated that every student was to appear for classes, “clean and properly clad”. “No injury by cutting, staining or otherwise is to be done to the tables, desks, forms, or any other part of the Building” and “there will be two Vacations in the year to commence the day after the semi-annual Examinations: the Summer vacation is to be four weeks in duration, and the Winter vacation to be a fortnight”. (A fortnight is two weeks or 14 days!) It certainly appears as though we have significantly increased our vacation time over the past 178 years at FHS.

In 1829, the School was divided into two departments; for it was then that the Collegiate Grammar School became independent; and two departments, English and Grammar, were set up. In the Grammar School, the thirty boys were taught by the “Westminster” system, which would have prepared them for life as proper gentlemen as well as an advanced education. The forty boys in the English department were taught under the “Madras” system which included reading, ciphering and religious rehearsals. Girls did not attend the School until 1880.

As FHS entered into its last five years at the York Street School (1920-1925), there would be challenging times ahead. For the first time in his career, Principal Foster was confronted with grooming and truancy situations. The senior girls wore tissue-paper ribbons in their hair because of the high cost of silk and the senior boys played “hooky” to attend the afternoon harness races.

In 1924, Fredericton High School moved into a new building on the corner of Regent and George Streets, which is now the George Street Middle School. The new school opened for classes in 1925 with an enrollment of 425 students. In 1931 an annex of five classrooms and a garage was added to the building to accommodate the increasing number of students. After World War II, Fredericton High School continued to expand, continuing to offer academic, commercial and vocational courses. The graduation class of 1952 was the first class to graduate with a twelve year program.

In September of 1972 more than 2500 students were attending Fredericton High School in various locations. The new and present day FHS building officially opened on Saturday, April 28th, 1973. Prior to April, 1973, the Students were scattered, with the Grade 10 Students in the Old Normal School building on Queen Street and the Business Education Department in the Old York Street School. The opening of the present day Fredericton High School was a huge event, and included such people as the Architect William J. Lake, Engineers, General Contractors, District and Administrative Staff, Teachers and Students.

The building now contains condos and is known as York House.

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One thought on “Old Fredericton High School (York House)

  1. I grew up and lived across the street from this school (York Street Public) that I attended in 1943, from Grade 1 to 8.
    My father and his brother also were students there, back in the 20’s.
    One of many things I will never forget was the “cow bell” that the teacher would ring to gather the students from the outdoor playground to return to classes. We had great teachers. Two in particular grew quite fond of one another and eventually married. It was exciting when some of us students watched as they departed from the church after the ceremony!
    The school was the hub of many activities both during and after classes – softball in the warmer weather and skating in the winter; crafts at other times.

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