What is a Canadian Boarding School?

Canadian flagI was thrilled when asked by AdmissionsQuest to contribute to the onBoarding School Blog, to provide information on and insight into the Canadian boarding school experience and highlight some of the issues facing the institutions north of the border. As this is my inaugural post, I thought it would be appropriate to simply pose the question of:

What is a Canadian Boarding School?

In 2008-2009 there were over 4,500 students in Canadian Association of Independent School (CAIS) boarding schools across Canada. Now this number may pale in comparison to the NAIS figures from the US, but when you compare the US to the Canadian Population (300 Million versus 31 Million) and look even closer at the independent school enrollment (over 611,000 US versus 41,000 Can), these boarding figures are not surprising.

Although Canada has a relatively small population, Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world in terms of the land mass. Throughout the country, there are CAIS boarding schools in all Canadian Provinces, except Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and the 3 territories (Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories). There are boarding schools in and around Major urban centres (I apologize for the spelling; however given that I am commenting on Canadian schools, I think it is appropriate to use Canadian spelling), like Toronto (Appleby , Havergal) Vancouver (St. Georges), Winnipeg (Balmoral Hall), Edmonton (Concordia High School) and Ottawa (Ashbury). These schools generally have a combination of day and boarding students and give the boarding students the opportunities to experience the urban life of these cities.

Outside of these urban centres, the more rural settings are home to many very unique boarding school options that expand the opportunities for outdoor activities, exposure to Canadian culture and the regional differences across the Country. In the East at Rothesay Netherwood School, students are exposed to the maritime culture and can take part in Hockey and Rowing. At Sedbergh School, in Quebec, students learn in English, while being exposed to the French culture and participate in outdoor activities like Cross Country and Downhill Skiing, camping and rugby. And way out west at Shawingian Lake School on Victoria Island, students can experience the Pacific way of living and participate in activities like Kayaking.

The options for Canadian boarding schools are as diverse as the people who live in the country. Many have a variety of unique programs to offer Canadian, American and international students alike, including many with IB and AP programs. So to answer the question of What is a Canadian Boarding School? The Answer: there is really no way to define it as they all have unique attributes, as well as diverse programs, locations and benefits to offer their students. Exploring the Canadian options for boarding schools can expose unique educational opportunities for all students. And particularly for American Parents, keep an eye on the exchange rate, as it can provide a huge saving on your child’s education!

About Cory Awde:

Mr. Cory Awde, AdmissionsQuest’s first Canadian blogger. Mr. Awde is the Director of Marketing and Admissions at Sedbergh School, in Montebello, Quebec Canada. Before completing a MA in Communication at the University of Ottawa (MA, 2008), Cory held various roles within the recruitment and liaison office at his Alma Mater, Brock University (BSM, 2005).

Photo credit: René Ehrhardt

  • Great overview of Canadian boarding schools, Cory. Appreciate the time you took to put this together for our readers. Very much appreciated!

  • JaceyLacey

    Going to Shawnigan Lake School next year for 8th Grade. I can’t wait!

Mr. Cory Awde is the Director of Marketing and Admissions at Venta Preparatory School, in Ottawa, Ontario. Before completing a MA in Communication at the University of Ottawa (MA, 2008), Cory held various roles within the recruitment and liaison office at his Alma Mater, Brock University (BSM, 2005) & Sedbergh College.

More by Cory Awde

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