History & Alumni
York Memorial's Heritage
"The 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour we will remember them."
George Harvey's Heritage
The school opened in 1952 as the first vocational school in the former City of York for students who want to pursue skilled trades. It became a composite secondary school focused on technology and offered a STEPS to University program, as well as a program called Game Design. George Harvey was also the first TDSB school to provide netbooks to students.
The vocational school was constructed in 1951 and opened in 1952. Designed by architect John B. Parkin, the original building had 12 classrooms, 3 commercial rooms, 3 typing rooms, two science labs, a double gymnasium, a 500-seated auditorium, library, an auto shop, an electrical shop, a machine shop, a wood shop and a large trades-room. It was the first technical secondary school serving the former City of York before it evolved into a composite school.
In May 2019, the school hosted 900 students from the displaced nearby York Memorial Collegiate Institute, which had caught in a five-alarm fire. As the school has a population of 535 students, the building can hold up to 1,435 pupils.
After the pupil accommodation review in 2021, the school and its name ceased to exist by June 30, 2022, and its student body was consolidated and has operated as York Memorial Collegiate Institute since September 2022. The newly-merged school will continue to operate at the George Harvey building until 2026.
The Fire and Merger
On May 6, 2019, just after the school marked its 90th anniversary, flames broke out in the auditorium towards the end of the school day. Firefighters battled the flames for about four hours before the fire was finally put out. The following morning, the blaze reignited and quickly escalated to a six alarm fire. Toronto Firefighters were unable to put out the flames and it destroyed much of the building. After investigation, the Ontario Fire Marshalls were unable to determine what caused the fire and deemed it accidental. York Memorial students finished off the 2018-2019 school year at George Harvey.
From 2019 to 2022, York Memorial operated inside of the old Scarlett Heights Entrepreneurial Academy building at 15 Treehorne Drive. In 2022, it was decided that York Memorial and George Harvey would merge as one school under the name York Memorial. York Memorial and George Harvey students came together as one at the start of the school year on September 2022. They will remain at this building until 2026 when the newly rebuilt York Memorial is set to be completed. See more information about the rebuilding here.
York Memorial Remembers
"I was a young kid when I started at Memo, 23 years old, I was so excited entering such a vibrant and exciting school that was to be my home for the next almost 30 years. Sometimes I really can’t believe all that time passed, I walked through those halls, and taught in almost every single room in one course or another. There are so many memories for me, too many to count, it really was my home, there were good times and some challenging ones, and I was always happy to go to school each day,
The day it burnt down, I could not stop crying, I had never experienced such a feeling of loss, other than when my my Dad passed away, it was like watching your home, your memories, a place you cherished and was always there for you, gone.
I find solace in the saying don’t be sad it’s over be happy it happened and I am so very happy, that I grew up in a wonderful school and that I am a part of the Memo history, and hopefully carry the honour of Memo into the future."
York Memorial was my first full time teaching position. I will never forget walking into her gorgeous auditorium that would become my classroom for many years. I had never seen anything quite like it especially in a high school. My mentor Doug Norris, introduced me to this room and referred to it as “The heart of Memo” and it certainly was! The countless plays, dance shows, ceremonies, and events I would partake in on that very stage was incredible. She really was my second home and her beauty was never lost on me. I still can’t believe a fire would take her but nothing can extinguish my memory of the magic that was created there, and the wonderful people I encountered during that time. In the words of Doctor Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened!”
One of my favourite things about coaching is the fact that students from all grades, academic ability, and backgrounds can come together with one common interest. When you choose to spend dozens, if not hundreds of hours a year working together on something you are passionate about, these teammates become more than just fellow students, they become family. After the fire, decades of cheerleaders shared their pictures, videos and memories of how sport and their experiences inside 2690 changed their life for the better. This is not just the story of cheer....this is the story of sport in general, music, drama, yearbook, you name the extra-curricular. This is what makes school fun and what makes students see their teachers as fellow humans. What they don't realize is that they had just as much of a positive influence on our lives, as we may have had on theirs.
York Memorial Alumni
York Memorial has a very strong and proud alumni community.
Please join us at the alumni Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2216715205/