Collegiate Institute


930 13 Avenue SW


Between 1892 and 1920, Calgary's public school board built eighteen sandstone schools to accommodate the City's rapidly growing student population. These imposing structures reflected the City's growing prosperity prior to World War I, and their Edwardian designs evoked the connection to the British Empire in the minds of Anglo-Saxon and immigrant school children, their parents, and the population at large.

Before 1908, public high school students in Calgary attended City Hall School, a complex of three frame buildings on 7 Avenue East known as "Sleepy Hollow". Architect R.G. Gordon adapted Scottish Baronial style for this eight room sandstone school, the most ornate and detailed of all sandstone public schools in the city. As with the other sandstone schools, the building material was quarried locally.

Completed in 1908, the new high school (known originally as Calgary Collegiate Institute, and later Central Collegiate Institute) addressed a serious deficiency in public high school accommodations in the City. However, as a result of Calgary's phenomenal pre-World War I boom enrolled doubled by 1910 and an addition became necessary. Architects Lang and Major designed the five-room, sandstone addition, which was sympathetic to the original structure. Further overcrowding led to the transfer of some high school classes to other schools, and ultimately to the establishment of a second public high school, Crescent Heights. The third-floor auditorium was converted into a library and two classrooms at an unknown date. Curriculum at Central Collegiate Institute was academically-oriented, intended to prepare students for higher education.

In 1918, the school was renamed Central High School, but it continued to be known popularly as Central Collegiate Institute. An Egyptian Revival Style gymnasium addition was designed by school board architect William Branton in 1940. And in 1943, training for pre-air crew members of the Royal Canadian Air force took place at the school.

Some of the school's noted alumni include: Douglas Harkness, Minister of Defence under Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker, Peter Lougheed, Premier of Alberta from 1971-1985, Chief Justice C.C. McLaurin, Calgary architect Harold Hanen, Canadian flag designer Dr. George F.G. Stanley, and Sheldon Chumir MLA.

Enrollment at Central High School had greatly declined by the time it closed in 1965. The school's library and traditions are maintained by Central Memorial High School, which opened in 1969. The original building served temporarily as an elementary school, and by 1972 was converted into the Central Special Class School for students with developmental disabilities.

It was renamed Dr. Carl Safran Special Class School on 1972. Dr. Safran (an educational psychologist) served as the Calgary Board of Education's Chief Superintendent from 1972-1977, was a key player in the development of special education in Calgary. In 1986, it became Dr. Carl Safran Centre, an education facility.



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Separate entrances for Boys and Girls are an interesting sign of how times have changed since Central High School was built.



The west side of the school has maintained its park while the east side has become the new home for the CBE administration building.