On the sunny afternoon of August 9, 1921, a crowd gathered at the northwest corner of what today is Great Lakes Secondary School.
The laying of the cornerstone for the new Sarnia Collegiate was a milestone in the city’s educational history. Before the Roman Catholic St. Patrick’s was opened in 1935, and Central and Northern followed in the 1950s, SCITS, or Sarnia Collegiate Institute and Technical School, was the city’s only high school.
The cornerstone was laid by Dr. F.W. Merchant of the Ontario Department of Education, with more than 100 teachers and education officials on hand. Other dais dignitaries included Mayor George Crawford, MP Frederick Forsythe Pardee, and MPP Jonah M. Webster.
A chairman with the unlikely name of Isaac Newton had led the cornerstone organizing committee, and the time capsule contained some interesting artifacts. They included:
A history of city schools dating back as far as 1838; bottles of oil manufactured by Imperial Oil, the city’s largest employer; silver and copper coins; and a 1921 civic directory with key facts added about Sarnia and its assets and liabilities.
Also added to the cornerstone was a history of the First Nations people written in Ojibwa by Francis W. Jacobs, Chief from 1901-1907, along with an English translation.
The idea was the cornerstone would be opened by some future generation at unspecified date. Some expected that would be 2022, on the 100th anniversary of SCITS.
But the home of the “Blue Bombers” didn’t quite make it to the anniversary. The Lambton Kent District School Board is closing the school when current classes end in June.
Instead, officials will open the cornerstone at a public ceremony on Saturday, April 28, starting at 11 a.m.
Paul Wiersma, a member of the committee organizing the SCITS Memorabilia Showing & Time Capsule Opening, anticipates a day full of nostalgia and history for past students, families of former students, and anyone interested in the old school’s glorious past.
Alumni are welcome to stop by the auditorium area for coffee, and many classrooms will be open for former students to reminisce.
The 97-year-old time capsule’s contents will be displayed along with sports trophies from both SCITS and the former St. Clair Secondary.
The student bodies of the two schools were combined in 2016 to become Great Lakes Secondary School.