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Architectural Conservancy Ontario

The past. Our present. Your future.

Lord Lansdowne Public School

LAST UPDATE: February 20 2020

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photo credit, courtesy of Bob Krawczyk

photo credit, courtesy of Bob Krawczyk

Name & Location
Lord Lansdowne Public School
33 Robert Street
University, Toronto

First Owner:
Toronto District School Board

Alternate names:
Lansdowne Public School; da vinci School; École Publique Lord Lansdowne Public School


The school was named Lansdowne Public School after the Marquess of Lansdowne, who was the fifth Governor-General of Canada, from 1883 to 1888. In 1967, the school's name was changed to Lord Lansdowne Public School to distinguish it from schools on or near Lansdowne Avenue.

The original building was built in 1887 and opened in 1888 on Spadina Crescent. There were 945 students housed in 12 classrooms. Additions were built in 1889and 1909. A fire in 1913 destroyed part of the building, but it was rebuilt in 1914. 

The site for the current structure was acquired in 1960, with construction commencing that year and completed in 1961. It was built at a cost of approximately $1,511,450. The two earlier buildings were in use during the construction of the current building. After it was completed, the earlier structures were demolished to create playground space.

The unique design of the school, Toronto's first circular school, was a creative solution to the tight site conditions. The main 9-sided building houses classrooms with a rectangular wing for underground parking below and a gymnasium above. Plumbing, electrical, and ventilation systems are located in the core of the circular layout.

Peter Pennington, the design architect of the school, said in a 1962 Canadian Art magazine article: "We hoped that by creating a school of unconventional shape and using bright colours and appointments with a certain flair, that we might stimulate the children – and the school staff as well."

The exterior piers are support lifts for the concrete roof. The school also features a colourful chimney stack. During excavation for the 1961 building, a large gabbro boulder (8 feet by 4 feet) that had been deposited by a glacier over 12, 000 years ago was found 12 feet down. This boulder was incorporated into the landscaping.

The building was listed on Toronto's Heritage Property Register in 1983. 

In 2017, Lord Lansdowne school become a full French immersion school as is known Ecole Publique Lord Lansdowne Public School.


Year Completed:

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The following companies are associated with this building
  • Architect - E.C. Etherington - Etherington was the Chief Architect for the Toronto School Board. Also known as "Frederick Etherington"   <-- More buildings by this architect.
  • Architect - Peter Pennington - Peter Pennington was the architect for the Board of Education for Toronto.   <-- More buildings by this architect.
  • Engineer - H G Facey - Chief Engineer, Toronto District School Board
  • General contractor - Bennett-Pratt Limited


Current use:


Main Style:
Mid century expressionist   <--  More buildings in this style.



  1. Inventory of Heritage Properties
    Author - City of Toronto
    More information

  2. Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal
    Date - July 1961
    Page - 41-42
    Notes - Includes a summary of the building´s design concept, descriptions of the various units within the building, floor plans, and an article about the decorative boulder.
    Document - Lansdowne School Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal

  3. Toronto Society of Architects Guide Map 1953-2003

  4. OAA Perspectives, Volume 2, Winter 1994, Ontario Places
    Author - Monica Contreras OAA, Luigi Ferrara OAA, MRAIC
    Date - 1994
    Page - 20-21
    Notes - Article describing the relationship of Frederick C. Etherington, Chief Architect, Toronto Board of Education and other talents like Peter Pennington who produced mid century expressionist schools such as Lord Lansdowne on Robert Street and Davisville Pub
    More information

  5. Lansdowne Public School Archival Summary
    Author - Gail Gregory
    Date - February 5, 1988
    Page - 2-4
    Notes - This file includes a brief history of the original Lansdowne Public School (which was built in 1887), a description of the rooms in the Robert Street location (the Lansdowne Public School built in 1961), a brief history of select staff and alumni of the s
    Document - Lansdowne Public School Archival Letter

  6. Lansdowne Senior Public School
    Author - TDSB
    Date - December 1961
    Notes - Includes interior and exterior photographs of the building, room capacities, construction costing, a summary of the planning and construction of the building, a summary of materials used, and floor plans.
    Document - Lansdowne School Summary

  7. A Gay School for Children: Canadian Art May-June 1962
    Author - Peter Pennington
    Date - 1962
    Page - 223
    Notes - An article where architect Peter Pennington discusses his design philosophy for Lord Lansdowne School.
    Document - CdnArtMayJn1962.pdf

  8. Why a ‘treasure’ of a Toronto school building is headed for demolition
    Author - Alex Bozikovic
    Date - FEBRUARY 10, 2017
    Notes - Article about Davisville Public School, with mentions and images of Lord Lansdowne.
    More information

  9. About
    Author - Ecole Lord Lansdowne Public School
    Notes - School webpage.
    More information

  10. Lord Lansdowne Junior Public School
    Author - TDSB
    Notes - TDSB page for school.
    More information


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