History Of Trafalgar Castle School | Trafalgar Castle School

History And Traditions

May 2019 banner History and Traditions


History of Trafalgar Castle School

The Castle was built as a private residence in 1859 by Nelson Gilbert Reynolds, Sheriff of Ontario County and was the largest private residence in North America until Casa Loma was built in 1914.

Built of limestone and stone in an Elizabethan style, the Castle cost an astounding $70,000 to build and took three years to complete. Reynolds lived at the Castle until 1874 when he was overcome with financial difficulty and forced to sell the land and the Castle to the Methodist Church of Canada at a cost of just $35,000.

Fuelled by a belief in the power of girls, the private mansion was converted into a school for young women known as the Ontario Ladies’ College (OLC). In 1979, OLC became Trafalgar Castle School. True to its founding mission, Trafalgar continues to shape the lives of young women through excellence in girls’ education.



Trafalgar Castle School has been educating girls and young women since 1874. While much has changed since we first opened our doors as Ontario Ladies’ College, we remain steadfast in our traditions and true to our founding mission of educating and challenging young women bound for higher education to achieve excellence in all aspects of life.


This event dates back to the early 1900s and has remained an integral part of the Trafalgar Castle Community’s traditions. From the Alumnae Tea Room to beautiful homemade crafts and a silent auction organized by the Parents’ Guild, students, families and visitors enjoy a day of tradition. Every year, proceeds from the Castle Bazaar support local, national and international organizations.


Christmas Dinner at the Castle is a treasured tradition when students, parents and staff gather in harmony to celebrate the holiday season. It is believed that the Christmas Dinner dates back to the late 1800s and originally commemorated the end of December exams and the beginning of the Christmas season.

The Castle’s elegant and ornate design lends itself beautifully to this festive evening when holiday music and the aromas of a delicious meal fill the halls.

In earlier years, students would dress in page costumes by candlelight and sing the “Boar’s Head Carol”, followed by a special processional during which the boar’s head, all roasted and brown, was carried in on a platter while everyone sang. Thankfully, this part of Christmas Dinner is no longer celebrated today!


The May Court Festival has been celebrated since 1907, bringing our school community and neighbours together to celebrate the crowning of the May Queen and her Court. The May Queen and her Counsellors are elected as the students who best exemplify our school motto, Veritas, Virtus, Venustas – Truth, Virtue, Loveliness.

From the more formal proceedings of the May Court to the fun festival that follows, each student is involved in making this day special. Guests are immersed in the wonderful diversity of our community with a display of cultural music and dance, international cuisine, horse-drawn wagon rides, a strawberry social tent and the infamous dunk tank for teachers.

It is a day of celebration to welcome spring and to rejoice in the warmth of our community.


Trafalgar Day represents the highest regard for academics and school life at Trafalgar Castle School. Introduced in 1874 by Dr. Hare, first Principal of the Ontario Ladies’ College, Trafalgar Day honours our graduating class, recognizing their outstanding achievements and exceptional contributions to school life throughout their time at the Castle.

Until 1991, Trafalgar Day was known as Commencement and was held on a Friday evening in early September. Aware that our graduates go on to universities all across Canada and around the world, Commencement was changed to Trafalgar Day and is now held at the end of each school year, marking the official last day of the school year.

Graduating students are linked together by a daisy chain, thoughtfully constructed by the Parents’ Guild. As each student prepares to take her place on stage, the daisy chain is cut to symbolize the start of the next chapter in her educational journey.

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