Historical Profile


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Nicholson Catholic College

301 Church Street
Belleville, Ontario
K8N 3C7



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The building on John Street which had been the Convent for the Sisters of Providence became St. Michael’s High School in 1941. By the late 1950s this four classroom facility could no longer meet the needs of the increasing enrolment. The building was meant to accommodate 65 students, but by 1959 was overflowing with 125 students.

In September 1960, Nicholson Catholic College opened its doors to 140 grades 11, 12 and 13 students.

Belleville’s rich history of Catholic secondary education began with the late Reverend Charles J. Killeen, Pastor (1911‐1930) who, when St. Michael’s Academy burned on January 20, 1928 saw the opportunity for Catholic secondary education in the days ahead. Thus, the foundation for what was later to become Nicholson Catholic College was laid and when St. Michael’s Academy reopened in September 1930, a Grade nine class was included in one of the four rooms on the second floor that Father Killeen had set aside for his dream. He was not allowed however, to see any fulfillment for he died June 7, 1930. His successor, Reverend James F. Nicholson, was appointed three months later and immediately became a staunch supporter of the high school project. How appropriate that the school would eventually bear his name.

Despite the scarcity of equipment and the difficulty of the Depression years, the first class graduated from St. Michael’s High School in 1935. A dream had been achieved, due to the sacrifices and the dedication of the teachers, most of whom were Sisters of Providence.

Time passed and enrollment grew. Demands for more accommodation were answered by converting the former convent on John St. when the Sister of Providence moved into the new St. Michael’s Convent in 1941. This new home for St. Michael’s High School, though small, maintained high academic standards and by the time expansion necessitated the erection of the first phase of Nicholson.

It was an exciting day for students and staff when Nicholson Catholic College opened its doors to 140 Grades 11, 12 and 13 students in September 1960. The new facility consisted of eight classrooms including a chemistry lab, biology room and commercial room equipped with 25 typewriters, a gym, library, lunch room and staff room. In noting the end of an era, the Canadian Register reported that “The old Catholic High School on John Street, Belleville, is being replaced by a newer, bigger and more impressive structure, but the historical traditions and high standards of St. Michael’s will be continued.” A second phase was soon required and this was formally opened in December of 1965 to include grades 9 and 10 students. The school’s enrollment continued to grow and eventually, a further expansion was necessary to accommodate the students from throughout Hastings and Prince Edward counties. This expansion, which included a two story addition, a gymnasium and a small chapel, was completed in 1984. To honour the valuable contribution of the Sisters of Providence to the school, the gymnasium was named the Providence Gym.

Over the past 50 years, Nicholson Catholic College’s athletic program has become well known in the local area as well as across the province. In the early ‘60’s, football was the high profile sport that drew the school population together and generated significant spirit.

With such a rich tradition of excellence and high performance, Nicholson’s Providence Gymnasium and Buckley Field, along with community arena’s and fields, provide us with a constant reminder of the presence of “Crusader Pride” in the Belleville area.

In keeping with its tradition of excellence, Nicholson continues to grow in the depth and integrity of its programs. High standards are being maintained in all existing courses and new programs are being established. In the fall of 1999, not only was the new four year secondary school curriculum put into place but an Extended French program was initiated to answer to the needs of Immersion students. The summer of 2000 saw renovations being made to the building which enhanced many programs particularly in the area of design technology, family studies, physical education and language instruction. A new larger chapel became the focal point of our school. In addition, Nicholson was accredited with the prestigious International Baccalaureate Program. This is an internationally recognized program which enhances learning as we prepare students for the 21st century. In 2005, Nicholson was able to enhance its technology department and improve service to our students by teaming up with Sir James Whitney School to provide Auto, Construction and Cosmetology courses to our students.

This year, 2010, Nicholson Catholic College celebrates its fiftieth year. The following are the principals who are remembered for their dedication to Catholic education and to Nicholson: Reverend Sister Mary Teresa (1960‐1978), Reverend Sister Mary Joan Lafleur (1978‐1993), Mr. Robert Follwell (1993‐1997), Dr. John Hoye (1997‐2003), Mr. Paul Denison (2003‐2005), Ms. Joan MacDonald (2005‐2008) and Mrs. Karen Shannon (2008 to the present). The first vice‐principal Mr. Patrick Glancey was appointed in 1984 and served in that position until 1993. He was re‐appointed as vice‐principal in 1997 and continued in that role until his retirement in 2006. Other vice‐principals have included Mr. Robert Follwell, Ms. Barbara Day‐Wills, Ms. Marilynne Senese, Ms. Theresa Harper‐Dubé, Dr. John Hoye and Mrs. Monique Chapman.

Karen Shannon, current principal says, “Nicholson Catholic College continues to be a school where more is possible. We are a community of believers who find purpose and hope in education. The students and staff of Nicholson today proudly carry the torch symbolic of our motto, ‘Quis ut Deus’, in what had become a legacy of learning, faith, selfdiscovery and service.”