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History of Bradford District High School

Bradford District High School has a rich and wonderful heritage. In 1859 the two-room Bond Head Grammar school, or high school, was placed on a sleigh and was moved to a plot of land between Fletcher Street and Queen Street in Bradford. This was eight years before Confederation. This means that our school is older than Canada itself! In 1872 the name was changed to Bradford High School and in 1890 a third classroom was added. In 1893, however, the school burned down.

Wartime and Fires

The same year a new school was built for $4000 at a new location on Queen Street. By 1904, there were 144 students attending the school from as far away as Schomberg, Beeton, and Alliston since this was the only high school in South Simcoe. During the First World War, many Bradford High School students and graduates answered the call to serve their country. One of the graduates, Matthew Archer, earned the Military Medal, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal for his actions during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. With his crew knocked out, he kept his machine gun going for 48 hours straight and repelled a German counter attack.      

In 1921 this school too burned down and it was replaced in 1923 on the same site by a new school. It was 2 and a half stories high with Greek column facades. Once again, during the Second World War, a second wave of Bradford High students and graduates fought for their country.


Officially BDHS

In 1950 the name was changed to Bradford District High School and a new four-room wing was built in the rear yard in 1956. In order to alleviate overcrowding, it was decided to build a new school at the present location at the corner of Highway 88 and Professor Day Drive. The present school was opened in February 1977. The population of the school doubled from 400 to 800 students. Fifteen portables had to be used until an extension was built in 1981 which added several classrooms, the technical shops, and a second gymnasium.

Excellence in teaching has always been one of the hallmarks of Bradford District High School. Some teachers such as Lech Jedral and Jeff Adams have earned their PhDs in their respective subjects. James Sparks was awarded the prestigious Rene Descartes Foundation for the Advancement of Mathematics Award from the University of Waterloo for helping raise the level of Math education in Ontario. In 2012 and again in 2017 the Fraser Institute ranked Bradford District High School as one of the top 3 public secondary schools in Simcoe County.

Acclaimed Alumni

Bradford District High School’s motto is “We shine a light on Academics, Athletics, the Arts, and Technology.” Many of our students and graduates have gone on to shine in their professions. Rob Keffer (class of 1972) has served as the mayor of Bradford. Kate Trotter is a Gemini award winning actress. Frank Ferragine (class of 1990) is a television personality on CityTV’s Breakfast Television. Gerrit Stam set the Ontario single season rushing record as a running back at the University of Guelph and was the Yates Cup MVP. Nicole Forrester (class of 1994) is a 7-time national high jump champion, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, and represented Canada at the 2008 Olympic Games. Dr. Ryan Van Lieshout (class of 1996) is the Albert Einstein/Irving Zucker Chair in Neuroscience at McMaster University. Brandon Mashinter (class of 2006) played in the NHL for the San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers, and the Chicago Blackhawks. Tyler Beveridge (class of 2007) is a cancer researcher in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Western Ontario.

Contributions Welcome

If you would like to contribute to the ongoing history of Bradford District High School, please email Tammy Jackson at tajackson@scdsb.on.ca.