New French school to open in Etobicoke
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Sep 01, 2011  |  Vote 0    0

New French school to open in Etobicoke

School will sit on site of former Col. Samuel Smith homestead


Historical significance of Smith homestead

Col. Samuel Smith (1756-1826) was a Loyalist British Army officer in the wars of the American Revolution, and one of Etobicoke's earliest settlers.

In 1793, as a captain in the Queen's Rangers, he was granted a tract of land which covered much of southwestern Etobicoke - the Colonel Smith Tract stretched from Kipling west to Etobicoke Creek, and from Bloor south to the lake.

Smith built his homestead on the site of what today is the grounds of the closed Parkview Public School in 1797, and it remained in continuous use until about 1949. When it was demolished in 1952 to make room for development, it was said to be the second oldest house in Ontario.

Etobicoke Guardian

The provincial government announced last week $5.2 million in funding to open a new French school in Etobicoke, much to the delight of both a growing parent population keen to enrol their kids in French-language schools and local preservation advocates.

Conseil scolaire Viamonde, the French public school board, is set to purchase Parkview Public School - the site of the archeological remains of Col. Samuel Smith's homestead at 85 41st St. - from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) with the provincial funds.

Set to re-open as a French school in 2013, the kindergarten to Grade 6 elementary school will serve as many as 200 students from Etobicoke and Mississauga. The funding for the school, which was announced last Thursday, Aug. 25, is part of the provincial government's investment of $45 million to expand access to French-language education across Ontario over the next three years.

Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Laurel Broten said she's proud of the announcement, and in the value her government places in French language education.

"Investing in local school infrastructure in Etobicoke-Lakeshore is an investment in student success that not only builds a brighter future, but strengthens our community and makes our neighbourhoods more vibrant," she said.

Proponents of French-language education weren't the only ones celebrating the news of Parkview's sale to Conseil scolaire Viamonde.

Local filmmaker Jaan Pill was among dozens of local residents and preservation advocates who, since February, have been engaged in a letter writing campaign lobbying for the Parkview property to remain in public hands.

Because the grounds of the school mark the site where Col. Samuel Smith once built his homestead, Pill and others from the community felt it important that they remain open.

"It's really important that the open space where the homestead used to be remains an open space. It's used around the year by area children for games of soccer, baseball and touch football, and it's also an area where local residents go to walk the grounds every day in all seasons of the year," he said, noting that there's also interest in a full archeological survey of the site one day (a preliminary survey took place back in 1984).

"It's a good news story and all of us are pleased. And also, it involved a close collaboration between public officials and every day residents, and that was key," Pill adding, extending his thanks to Broten and Etobicoke-Lakeshore Trustee Pamela Gough for their help. "It couldn't be better news. It's just wonderful."

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