Ritson Road Public School

1923 - 2012; building still standing

Ritson Public School is located on the west side of Ritson Road South between Olive Avenue and Stacey Avenue. Although it is now permanently closed, the school keeps a fascinating history.

According to some sources, in the 1820s or 1810s, John Ritson, the man whom the school is named after, was travelling through Oshawa when his wagon broke down on Kingston Road. He decided to stay in Oshawa when he heard of the need for teachers and became one of Oshawa’s first school teachers in the Village of Harmony. Students would go to school by walking through numerous paths in the woods from their scattered homes.

Ritson bought land on Concession One, now present day Ritson Road, where he lived with his wife and seven children. He had an active role in the agriculture advancement in Canada by holding a number of offices in relation to township fairs. In 1853, he was declared as first vice-president by the County of Ontario Agricultural Society.

Built in 1923, Mr. Harvey W. Knight became the school’s first principal. The school sits on approximately four acres of land, surrounded by plenty of green space with its design inspired by neo-gothic architecture. It had two baseball backstops, a soccer field, paved parking, and a school playground. A bus loop was put in place as well. When Oshawa officially became a city in 1924, it had eight public elementary schools, one of them being Ritson Public School.

Another structure was built in 1928, which operated alongside the original building. A total of three additions were built beside the original structures, the last one being built in 1975 according to the Oshawa Times. The existing structure is three-storeys high and made out of masonry, brick, and block construction. In 1948, during a time when kindergarten was not commonly acknowledged, Ritson P.S. became one of the first schools in Oshawa to offer a kindergarten class. The 1948 Fire Insurance Map shows a swimming tank located on the property, to the west of the building.

The school closed down in 2012 by a vote taken by Durham District School Board trustees. In 2019, the Oshawa council passed a bylaw which appointed the school as property of cultural heritage value under the Ontario Heritage Act.

In January 2022, Brian Nicholson, Regional Councillor for Ward 5, was happy by the deal done to renovate the school for affordable housing. Said by Durham Chair John Henry, the unused parts of the property would be used for housing whilst maintaining the building’s neo-gothic qualities.

With information from:





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

M. McIntyre Hood, Oshawa: Canada’s Motor City

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Ritson Road South 300
Oshawa L1H 5J1 ON CA
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