opened its first school in 1892 for boys only at the corner of LaSalle & Washington
Streets with 210 enrolled, taught by the Brothers of the Holy Cross from Notre Dame. The brothers would be joined later
by the Sisters of Mercy, who were also located down the street at St. Xavier Academy
(which was known as St. Joseph's at the time). The sisters eventually took over the school in 1903, which continued
to grow to the point that another building was needed by 1913.
That second building, which was north of the original school and is shown at the top of the page, was a two-story brick
structure like the original building and was dedicated on the same day in 1913 along with new school buildings at St. Patrick's
and St. Francis on the city's west side by then-Bishop Edmund Dunne.
The following information about the school building itself was located in the Ottawa Daily Republican Times by Mollie
Perrot, a historian in Ottawa:
"Information given about the St. Columba High School noted that the contract for its construction was awarded
to the Ottawa firm of Sinnott Brothers about April 1st of 1913. Orders were given to rush the work with all possible
haste. The building was of red pressed brick, trimmed in Bedford stone, the general architecture being in harmony with the
St. Columba’s boys’ school adjoining it. The basement held 'the heating apparatus, lavatories and play rooms,'
while the first floor encompassed a large lobby, two class rooms, and a large library room. A broad staircase led to the second
floor, where there were three large class rooms and coat rooms.
"The plumbing and heating contract for the building was awarded to J. M. Dougherty, of Ottawa, and a vacuum system
of heating was installed. The whole building was designed with a view of taking the best care possible of sanitation, ventilation
and lighting. Completed, the building represented an expenditure of about $30,000, and was 'so designed that it will be possible
to add to it without destroying its beauty. The building had a frontage of 90 feet on La Salle Street and is 47 feet in depth.'"
Four years later, after allowing both boys and girls in the grade school, it opened a boys' high school
in the newer building in 1917.
St. Columba's was a compliment to the all-girls' St. Xavier for those parents who wished to send their sons to a Catholic
high school in town instead of elsewhere where they may have to be boarded. Unfortunately, St. Columba could not keep up with
the demand of having the required equipment and available space for the boys that they were teaching, and it was decided
to close the high school down in June 1919.
Even though a high school no longer exists, St. Columba Grade School remains open and strong to those parents who wish
to send their children to a private school in Ottawa. The school built another building that houses the administrative
offices, classrooms, and gymnasium in 1963, and tore down the older two buildings in 1979. In its place today is an addition
that was connected to the 1963 building in 1985 (pictured below) which houses more classrooms and a cafeteria large enough
that it can hold weekend masses in the summer due to the fact that it is air-conditioned.