Ontario Boys Training School
Following World War I there was a growing interest in the social well-being of young boys and an overhaul of the existing institutional schools, a proponent of which was Toronto Mayor J. Alex Edmison. In June 1922 while addressing a Social Service convention in Toronto he caught the interest of Bowmanville businessman J.H.H. Jury, who offered his farm near Bowmanville to the Ontario Government if they were to build such a public institution. It was to be a home for ‘unadjusted boys’ who were ‘not inherently delinquent’ but needed a structured environment to thrive. The offer of the farm was accepted and under the premiership of the Honourable Howard Ferguson, the site was established as what was then known as the Bowmanville Boys’ Training School.
The first 16 boys were transferred to the school in August 1925. Boys were selected for the school and were not committed to the facility. By 1931 the school was referred to as the Ontario Training School for Boys and accepted youth between the ages of ten and fifteen, teaching the boys a wide variety of skills, educating and integrating them into society.
The Provincial Government purchased an adjoining farm and by March 1926 two cottages and a dining room were built.
The school was built on American correctional school models with modern well-ventilated buildings. The original buildings were inspired by “Prairie Style” architecture and campus plans with cottage residences. Other substantial buildings such as the triple dormitory, which could house over a hundred boys and the hospital building were added in the 1930’s. Local service clubs provided funding for an indoor pool, gymnasium and some dormitory buildings. The school was well used by the community as local children came to use the recreational facilities. Local fairs, the first Durham Music Festival and the Junior Police Games were held on these grounds.