Algonquin College History
Algonquin College is named after the First Nations Peoples who first inhabited the Ottawa Valley. For more information, please watch this video.
Celebrating 45 Years of Student Success
The Ontario College system was founded as “a new level and type of education to serve those parts of the population whose needs were not met by the existing education system. Focused mainly on career-oriented education, colleges would create a system which would be a coherent whole”. (Ontario Dept. of Education, Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Basic Documents, 1967)
In 1957, the Eastern Ontario Institute of Technology in Ottawa was established with roughly 120 students and a staff of seven. Proudly known as “EOIT”, its first home was in the old Slater Street Public School.
Growth in student enrolment soon necessitated an expansion in facilities, so in 1960, the Laurier Avenue Public School was acquired. In 1964, a new facility known as the Rideau Campus was acquired and welcomed more than 700 students that September.
The Ontario Vocational Centre (OVC) opened in 1965 on what is now the College’s Woodroffe Campus and it was in 1967 when the OVC and EOIT merged to create the new Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology in 1967.
Growth continued in the late 1960s, with “satellite” campuses in Pembroke, Hawkesbury, Perth and Renfrew.
In 1968, a 14,000 square-foot space was leased to accommodate retraining programs in Pembroke.
In order to accommodate the demand for career-oriented education, an additional 37,000 square feet was leased over the next two years.
When the Perth Campus opened, it served primarily as a retraining site with academic upgrading being its focus. Later, skill programs were added such as Stenography, Electronics, Welding, Carpentry and various programs relating to employment needs in Lanark County.
In 1969, a 13,000 square-foot building was constructed to house the Vanier School of Nursing, which became a part of the Woodroffe Campus when nursing programs began to be offered at the College.
Algonquin College was well set up to provide great service to students knocking at the College’s door in ever-greater numbers. Student-focused service became a theme for everything we did – a commitment that flourishes to this day.
In the 1970s, the word was out – Algonquin was a great choice for post-secondary education. So many students thought that way, that the first of several building booms was needed to accommodate the growing population. Construction continued on the Rideau Campus – providing additional classroom and office space as well as an expanded Resource Centre. The B Building on the Woodroffe Campus was completed adding 200,000 square feet.
In 1973, the School of Prescott-Russell joined the Algonquin family and the Colonel By Campus was created through the acquisition of St. Patrick’s College. The Colonel By Campus boasted beautiful grounds created by its horticulture students, and offered many popular programs such as Architecture, Interior Design and Visual Arts.
The Pembroke Campus graduated its first 101 students in 1971 and continued to expand its programming throughout the 1970s. By the end of the decade, the Pembroke Campus was offering full-time programs such as Forestry, Business, Electronics, and Nursing, with specialized courses in subjects as diverse as Old-Time Fiddling, An Introduction to the Bible, and Self-Reliant Lifestyles for the Whole Person – a reflection of both traditional and Woodstock-generation values that were present in the community at that time.
New programs were launched on all Campuses. The Ambulance and Emergency Care (Paramedic) program was launched in 1976 and was one of many programs that began in the 1970s, such as Applied Museum Studies, Dental Assisting, Recreation Facilities Management and Film Production, to name just a few.
By 1981, student and apprentice day-time enrolment at Algonquin had already passed the 10,000 mark. In addition, continuing education was attracting tens-of-thousands of course registrations each year.
Ground breaking for the construction of the new Hospitality Centre on the Woodroffe Campus began at the end of the 1980s to house the College’s growing selection of Hospitality programs, and provide space for the First Class Bookstore and the Campus Travel office.
Throughout the 1980s, the College’s infrastructure and course offerings were being transformed. With a focus on technology and workplace needs, it has always been imperative for Algonquin to stay ahead of emerging trends. The 1980s saw the introduction of many new programs, such as Hospitality Management – Hotel and Restaurant, Technical Writer, Florist and Public Relations to name a few – along with the labs, studios, and equipment needed to support them. The Journalism – Print program introduced the Algonquin Times, a publication that would go on to win numerous Ontario Community Newspaper Awards.
Growth and change continued on the Perth Campus in the 1980s with the introduction of the Carpentry and Millwork – Heritage and the Women In Trades and Technology programs. On the Pembroke Campus, the 1980s were years of optimism and growth that began with a 10 percent increase in enrolment, the subsequent purchase of the College facility, and the addition of new technology and community service programming.
Algonquin finished the decade as a bold and confident leader in Canadian post-secondary education, ready to take advantage of the technological opportunities that the 1990s would provide.
Two words characterize the 1990s at Algonquin College: consolidation and expansion. Consolidation involved relocating the delivery of services in the Ottawa area to the Woodroffe and Rideau campuses. Expansion was required to accommodate additional students and to house new programs. 1990 marked the beginning of Algonquin as an English college with the creation of La Cité Collegiale.
The Early Learning Centre was built at the Woodroffe Campus to house the innovative Early Childhood Education program. It was followed by the construction of J Building, the Horticulture Centre, and significant renovations to the Woodroffe Campus to provide for accessibility. Fifteen portables at Rideau and Woodroffe were replaced with newly renovated classrooms. In 1995, an Integrated Media Centre designed to showcase the College’s programs in Media and Design Studies opened, featuring state-of-the-art Silicon Graphics computer equipment.
Expansion of programs continued on the Perth Campus with the launch of the renowned Masonry – Heritage and Traditional program.
The late 1990s saw the development of the new Outdoor Adventure programs to be delivered on the Pembroke Campus.
The Students’ Association (SA) doubled the size of the gymnasium and Algonquin began building its first College Residence on the Woodroffe Campus.
At the end of the decade – with full-time enrolment approaching 13,000 – the College embarked on a multi-million dollar IT infrastructure project with the SA. Throughout the College, computer hardware, software and networks were upgraded to prepare graduates for the knowledge-based society they would soon enter.
In 2000, Algonquin entered the new millennium by continuing its progress on several fronts.
Construction boomed in this decade. Highlights include: the opening of the Police and Public Safety Institute in partnership with the Ottawa Police Service; the Transportation Technology Centre; the Simulation Centre for Health Studies; a soccer facility built by the SA; the Animal Health Care Facility; the state-of-the-art SA Fitness Zone; and the completion of the Advanced Technology Centre.
The Rideau Campus closed in August of 2002 and programs were moved to the Advanced Technology Centre on the Woodroffe Campus. By August 2003, two more residences had opened on the Woodroffe Campus, providing enough space to house 1,050 students.
Each year of this decade has seen the launch of many exciting new programs such as Photonics Engineering Technology, Sport Business Management, Game Development, and Green Architecture on the Woodroffe Campus, and the environmentally minded Construction Carpentry – Advanced Housing program on the Perth Campus.
Bachelor Degrees in Applied Studies were also introduced and full-time enrolment on all three campuses continues to grow – now standing at approximately 16,000.
The College moved to a hybrid model for program delivery where portions of programs and courses are provided in a technology-mediated (e-learning) format to complement traditional methods.
So far, the 2010’s have seen the addition of two new buildings at the Ottawa campus – the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence (2011) and the Robert C. Gillett Student Commons (2012) – along with fresh new campuses in Perth (2011) and Pembroke (2012). They have also brought with them the retirement of Algonquin College’s longest serving president, Robert C. Gillett, who handed over the reins to Dr. Kent MacDonald in August of 2012. The College has renewed its emphasis on applied, hands-on learning, and continues to develop strong online and hybrid learning environments.
Sustainability has also been given a greater profile at Algonquin College, which attained LEED Platinum certification for the Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence (ACCE Building) and LEED Gold certification for the Algonquin Heritage Institute, located in Perth. The Robert C. Gillett Student Commons and the Pembroke Waterfront campus have also both received their LEED certification.
1967 – 1969
Dr. Frederick Rosser
1969 – 1973
Dr. Gerald Maher
1973 – 1982
Dr. Laurent Isabelle
1982 – 1984
Dr. Brian Ash
1984 – 1995
Mr. Philip Killeen
1996 – 2012
Dr. Robert Gillett
2012 – 2014
Dr. Kent MacDonald
2014 – Present