Dr. S.J. Phillips School (North Simcoe School)


Dr. S.J. Phillips first opened as North Simcoe Public School in 1924, located on the corner of Simcoe Street North and Rossland Road West. At this time, this was the northern limits for the City of Oshawa. Before construction was finished on the three-storey structure, students attended school at temporary accommodations located at Hillcroft Street School.

The school’s first Principal was Jean Garrow, and the staff numbered eight. In the early days of this school, days often started with an assembly where students would gather on the stairs to sing “O Canada,” and Miss Garrow would read from the Bible.

During the Second World War, former student Mary Cornish Wilson remembered that children at school would save the fluff from milkweed pods. Principal Savery would collect sacks of them for donation to the war effort, where they contributed to making parachutes and filling lifejackets.

Throughout the 1950s, the number of students continued to rise steadily. This necessitated two additions, the south wing (including kindergarten rooms and an auditorium) in 1952 and the north addition (home economics and manual arts rooms) in 1956. September 1960 saw an all-time high enrolment of 811 students. There were 27 teachers on staff, more than ever before. An addition of two portables to the grounds to was necessary to accommodate all of the students.

The name of the school became Dr. S. J. Phillips on January 4, 1961. Dr. Stanley J. Phillips was a dentist in Oshawa for a number of years and was a veteran of World War I. When dental inspection was first introduced in the health program in the schools, he was one of the first dentists appointed. He was an ardent worker on the school board for many years. He also served on the Board of Education from 1930 – 1950. At the renaming event, Dr. Phillips issued a challenge to students “to become outstanding citizens of the community.”

The school celebrated the 60th Anniversary in 1984. The opening ceremony took place in the gym (an addition in the early 1970s). The organising committee hosted an open house with ‘decade rooms’, so that former students could find classmates. The ‘decade rooms’ were so popular that they have been use at every Anniversary celebration since. The organisers also held a ‘balloon blast’; each student put their name on a scrap of paper and put it into a helium balloon. After their release (much later), it was found out how far some of them had travelled! Students past and present planted a commemorative Blue Colorado Spruce tree to mark the Anniversary.

On September 25, 1999, the school celebrated its 75th Anniversary. Along with the ‘decade rooms’, Mayor Nancy Diamond was scheduled as a guest speaker, the O’Neill Chamber Choir performed, there was a barbeque, and a 1950s-themed dance at the Kinsmen Community Centre.

The community knows Dr. S. J. Phillips Public School for strong academics, arts and athletics. Character education is just as important as reading and writing. The school’s focus in the late 2010s was on the theme of leadership. Through this theme, staff addressed three major challenges: First, raising the bar on academics; second, improving our school culture and third, providing our students with basic life skills to be successful.


“I grew up on Grierson Street in Oshawa, just south of Rossland Road. I went to North Simcoe Public School which later became, Dr. S.J. Philips. One of my teachers was Ms. Green. I would walk to school cause we lived close. I remember North Simcoe always having a skating rink and we would go skating up there plus I had a skating rink in our backyard.” ~Ann Thurn, 2014.

“Let’s go red, let’s go white, let’s go Phillips, fight, fight, fight!”

With information from:

J. Douglas Ross, Education in Oshawa: From Settlement to City.

“About Us” Dr. S.J. Phillips Public School, accessed 23 Feb 2024, via: https://phillips.ddsb.ca/en/our-school/about-us.aspx

“Long, proud history at Dr. S.J. Phillips,” Oshawa This Week, 29 June 2007; accessed 23 Feb 2024, via: https://www.durhamregion.com/life/long-proud-history-at-dr-s-j-phillips

“N. Simcoe Public School now Dr. S.J. Phillips School,” The Oshawa Times, 5 Jan 1961, p. 15

Jane Nelson, “60th Anniversary,” Unpublished document, Oshawa Museum archival collection.

Christy Chase, “Dr. S.J. Phillips celebrates 75thOshawa This Week, 22 Sept 1999. A5; “Dr. S.J. Phillips celebrates 75th anniversary,” Oshawa This Week, 11 May 1999, 7.

Rate and write a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Simcoe Street North 625
Oshawa L1G 4V5 ON CA
Get directions