School History

When Bishop Fergus O'Grady, OMI, first became bishop of the Vicariate of Prince Rupert in March of 1956, he realized the great need for Catholic Education in Northern British Columbia. At that time a plan was put in place to build a new parish and school because Sacred Heart was bursting at the seams. It was as a part of this plan that St. Mary's School was built in 1960. Construction was to begin in 1959, but the newly completed school in Burns Lake burned to the ground and Father Bogues (pastor of St. Mary's) had to return there to supervise its rebuilding. When he returned to Prince George in April 1960 worked immediately commenced on St. Mary's School. The foundations of both the school and gymnasium were laid on May 2, 1960.

Construction on the school continued to completion by the Jarvis Construction Company and St. Mary's School was ready for students the following September. At the same time, however, demands for space by the high school (currently housed at Sacred Heart) necessitated St. Mary's giving up seven classrooms for grades 9-13. The elementary grades (1-6) used the industrial arts building, currently the chapel, and one classroom, while grades 7 and 8 remained at Sacred Heart.

Prince George College's new buildings (the former O'Grady High School) were opened in 1962 and the high school students moved out of St. Mary's. The elementary students moved into the main part of the school and the 4 elementary classrooms were dismantled. In 1962 a grade 8 class was temporarily added to the school but was removed in 1969.

The Kindergarten classroom and the library was added to the school in 1970. For three years, 1975-1979, preschool was offered instead of afternoon Kindergarten. The library, which was set up and operated by the Catholic Woman's League until 1978, has been a tremendous asset to the school. It was computerized in 1989 - the first school in the Prince George area to have its collection and circulation fully automated. In 1989 a computer room, a large storage area and a spacious boot room were constructed.

The Sisters of Mercy formed and guided the direction of St. Mary's School for 36 years from 1960 to 1996. Their tradition and commitment to excellence in education, the integration of Christian values, outreach to others, and care of the earth is the foundation on which the school is built. Mrs. Yvonne Johns was the first lay principal of St. Mary's School from 1996 to 1999 followed by Mr. Greg Miller from 1999-2004. Mr. Brent Arsenault served as principal from 2004-2017. Our current principal, Mrs. Jenny Schroeder began in 2017. 

From 1960 until 1977 the school was staffed by Sisters of Mercy and Frontier Apostles from several countries and supported by a parish subsidy, bingo gaming funds and tuition fees. The first staff consisted of two Sisters of Mercy, Sister Stanislaus (Principal and gr. 3 & 4), Sister Margaret Quinn (gr. 1 & 2) and one Frontier Apostle, Kay Calligan (gr. 5 & 6).

It was not until 1978 when the British Columbia government began to provide some funding that some partially funded staff could be hired. From that point on specialists such as learning assistance, physical education, french, library, music, and computer have been gradually added to the staff.

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