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Our Story

July 12, 2021

Officially named St. Paul's Roman Catholic Separate School Division No.20, our story began with three teachers and 69 students gathered for classes in St. Paul's Church basement (now St. Paul's Co-Cathedral) in 1911. We now we are Saskatchewan's largest Catholic School Division with almost 20,000 students and over 2,000 employees in 50 schools (43 elementary and seven high school) serving Saskatoon, Martensville, Warman, Humboldt and Biggar.

Early Years

  • School openings:
    • St. Mary 1913
    • St. Paul 1926 (opened in 1911 and was located in several different buildings) 
    • St. Joseph 1928 (opened in 1920 in a different building)
  • Father H. L. Vachon, Oblates of Mary Immaculate is credited as the driving force behind the establishment of Catholic schools in Saskatoon.  In 1911, he used his personal funds to provide supplies for the division’s first school.  Father Vachon School honours his leadership.
  • On June 21, 1911 St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Separate School District No. 20 became an official entity.
  • On September 5, 1911, 69 students enrolled in the first school, housed in the basement of St. Paul’s Church.  Sr. M. St. Solange was the first principal of the school;  Sisters of the Presentation of Mary were the first teachers.
  • The first chairman of the Board of Education was Bernard Macdonald.  St. Bernard is dedicated to Mr. Macdonald.
  • The Sisters of Sion arrived in 1917 and provided the longest continuous service to our school division.
  • In 1922 the Ladies of Loretto joined the staff at St. Mary School.  They lived in the third-floor residence of the school.  In later years, this residence was home for the school’s caretaker and his family.
  • Between 1914 and 1964, 1800 students graduated from St. Mary School.
  • Edward Daniel Feehan was principal of St. Mary School and later served as Superintendent of Schools from 1929 to 1956.  Today, both E. D. Feehan High School and St. Edward School are dedicated to Edward Daniel Feehan.
  • The dedication of many religious communities was instrumental in establishing a tradition of excellence in Catholic education and faith formation.  This tradition continues today in our school division.  In the early years, the Sisters taught for little or no pay.  Until the 1960s they were paid less than lay teachers.
  • In 1939, Emmett Hall was elected to Saskatoon’s Catholic school board and remained a board member for 19 years.  In 1982, the musical Ave paid tribute to the efforts of Hall, Michael Geary and others who prevented the foreclosure of St. Mary School, and possibly the demise of Catholic education, during the Depression.

1950s

  • This was a period of rapid growth for our division. 
  • School openings:
    • St. Michael 1951
    • St. Frances 1953
    • St. Paul North 1953
    • Bishop Murray 1954
    • St. Goretti 1954 (rebuilt after fire in 1978)
    • St. John 1955
    • St. Philip 1956
    • St. Edward 1957
    • Christ the King 1958 (renamed Georges Vanier in 1967)
    • Holy Family 1959
    • St. Gerard 1959
  • Sister Anne O’Brien, Sisters of Service, was an attendance officer at the Catholic school board for 15 years.  Sister O’Brien School is named in her honour.
  • Bishop Philip Pocock was Bishop of the Diocese of Saskatoon from 1944-1951.  Naming a school after him in 1977 recognized this caring individual who excelled as a gracious and articulate leader.
  • Bishop Andrew Roborecki was the first Ukrainian Bishop of the Eparchy of Saskatoon.  He served our community from 1951 to 1982.  Bishop Roborecki School was named after him in 1974.
  • In the 1950s, Superintendent Matt J. Hertz was the sole administrator of Saskatoon’s Catholic schools.  He operated out of a small downtown office with the assistance of a part-time secretary.
  • In 1955, Bishop Francis Klein established St. Paul’s, a high school for boys, in the downtown area.  Bishop Klein was an advocate for tax-based funding for Catholic high schools and in 1964 changes to the property tax law made public funding for grades 9 to 12 a reality.  The first high school operated by the Catholic school board was Holy Cross, which opened in 1963 (housed at St. Charles School), followed by E. D. Feehan in 1967.  Bishop Klein School honours his memory.

1960s

  • School openings:
    • St. Charles 1960
    • St. James 1962
    • St. Patrick 1963
    • Holy Cross High School 1964 (Taylor Street site)
    • St. Dominic 1964
    • St. Matthew 1965
    • E. D. Feehan High School 1967
    • Bishop Klein 1967
    • St. Thomas 1967
    • Saskatoon French School 1967
    • Cardinal Leger 1969
    • Sion Junior High School 1968
  • In 1961, Saskatoon Catholic Schools celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a grand celebration at the Exhibition Grounds.  The day’s events included a student Jubilee Choir with representation from every school.
  • In 1963, Walter Podiluk began a 15-year term at the board office, first as Superintendent, then as Director of Education for Saskatoon’s Catholic school board.  St. Volodymyr School is dedicated to Walter Podiluk for his exceptional leadership and passion for Catholic education.
  • Until 1964, Catholic high schools were not funded by the government, so families wanting to send their children to Catholic schools were required to pay tuition.  Sion Academy for girls and St. Paul’s High School for boys preceded Holy Cross (1963) and E. D. Feehan (1967).
  • George Molloy was secretary-treasurer to the school board from 1964 to 1979.  He was instrumental in the revision of rules to allow designation of taxes to the Catholic school board in Saskatoon.  St. George School is dedicated to George Molloy.
  • Fr. Ron Beechinor began his teaching career in 1964 at St. Paul’s High School and since then has provided continuous service to the Catholic school division and the Diocese of Saskatoon.
  • Bishop James Mahoney, bishop from 1967 to 1995, was the first Saskatoon-born priest to be installed as bishop of the Diocese of Saskatoon.  Bishop James Mahoney High School is named in his honour.

1970s

  • School openings:
    • Sion High School 1971
    • Bishop Roborecki 1974
    • St. Augustine 1975
    • Father Vachon 1976
    • St. Anne 1976
    • Bishop Pocock 1977
    • St. Mark 1977 
    • St. George 1979
    • Native Survival School 1979 (renamed Joe Duquette in 1981, then Oskāyak in 2006)
  • An alternate educational program for grades 8 to 11 was established in 1971 in Sion High School.
  • The English Language Learners Program welcomed its first students in 1975; these students from Japan attended St. Matthew.
  • The administrative offices of Saskatoon Catholic Schools were moved into their current location on 22ndStreet East in 1976.  Two floors were added in 1987.
  • St. Maria Goretti School was rebuilt in 1978 after being destroyed by fire in 1977.  It became home to the first Ukrainian-English bilingual program in Saskatchewan.
  • In the 1970s, Fr. Len Morand, who later became Msgr. Morand, was the pastor at St. Paul’s Cathedral, where he developed a special affinity for the growing number of First Nations people attending his Masses.  He worked with Bishop Mahoney to establish an alternate learning environment for these children.  In 1979, the Native Survival School was founded so that First Nations youth could have the opportunity to learn of, and participate in, their traditions within a school setting.
  • Georges Vanier School, formerly Christ the King School, began a core arts education program of music, art, dance and drama in 1979, making it the first designated fine arts school in Saskatchewan.

1980s

  •  School openings:
    • St. Bernard 1981
    • Sister O’Brien 1981
    • St. Marguerite 1983
    • Bishop James Mahoney High School 1984
    • St. Peter 1985
    • St. Angela 1987
    • St. Volodymyr 1988
    • St. Luke 1989
  • Joe Duquette High School (Native Survival School) and the Saskatoon French School were granted associate school status in 1981.
  • Phil Hammel, chair of the Saskatoon Catholic School Board, worked diligently to ensure that the Saskatchewan Education Act of 1978 and the rights of Catholic education would continue to be protected with the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution in 1982.
  • The Partnerships in Education Program was established in 1986 to pair individual schools with community groups and businesses to enhance students’ educational experiences through direct contact with the “outside world.”
  • By 1988, the English as a Second Language Program was firmly established in 20 schools, with 97 students and 2.5 ESL teachers looking after their needs.  The vast majority of these students were political or religious refugees.
  • Ave was the largest special project undertaken by Saskatoon Catholic Schools during Saskatoon’s Centennial Year.  It was a romanticized version of events in the history of Saskatoon’s Catholic schools.  The play centred around St. Mary, one of the first Catholic elementary schools.

1990s

  • School openings:
    • Father Robinson 1992
    • Sion Middle School 1995
    • Bishop Murray High School 1995
    • St. Joseph High School 1995
  • The Saskatoon Catholic Schools Foundation was established in 1993 to provide ongoing support for educational and faith-based programs in the division not funded through taxation.
  • The Farm School Program, operating in partnership with Columbus Bosco Homes, began in 1993 as an alternative educational program for at risk youth.  Along with their studies, students are also responsible for gardening and animal care.
  • Through the International Student Program established in 1996, young people from Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao, Argentina, Ukraine and Thailand have earned academic credits and experienced life in Saskatoon.
  • The Advanced Placement program, which began in 1996, allows students to earn university credits while attending high school.  In 2010, students could choose from Advanced Placement classes in English Literature and Composition, Calculus, French, Studio Art, Chemistry, and Music Theory.
  • Saskatoon Catholic Cyber School has offered online courses to students around the world since 1999.

2000s

  • School openings:
    • Mother Teresa 2001
    • Pope John Paul II 2005 (amalgamation of St. James and St. Thomas)
    • St. Alphonse - Viscount *
    • St. Augustine - Humboldt *
    • St. Dominic - Humboldt *
    • St. Gabriel – Biggar *
    • Bishop Filevich 2006 (formerly Holy Family)
    • Bethlehem Catholic High School 2007

*Joined Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools in 2006

  • In 2006, Saskatoon Catholic Schools joined with Catholic school divisions in Biggar, Humboldt and Viscount to create a new, larger St. Paul’s RCSSD #20.  Two elementary schools in Humboldt, one in Biggar, and one in Viscount became part of the division, which changed its common name to Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.  In 2010, the new Martensville Catholic School division amalgamated with GSCS.
  • The Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Board of Education unveiled the division’s new mission statement at the start of the 2009-2010 school year.

2010s

  • School openings:
    • St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic School (2017)
    • St. Térèse of Lisieux Catholic School (2017)
    • St. Nicholas Catholic School (2017)
    • St. Lorenzo Ruiz Catholic School (2017)
    • Holy Trinity Catholic School - Warman (2017)
    • École Holy Mary Catholic School - Martensville (2017)
  • These six schools were part of a provincial Joint-Use Schools Project that included two schools at one location in both Martensville and Warman, eight schools at four locations in Saskatoon, and six schools at three locations in Regina.


If you're interested in more detail, email info@gscs.ca to learn how to get a copy of our Centennial Histry Book.

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