Getting to 100 is significant - more than 2300 people will gather for four days to celebrate what Burlington Central High has meant to their lives.

By Pepper Parr

May 28th, 2023


The pandemic changed almost everything including the 100th anniversary of Burlington Central High School. The pause hasn’t made much of a difference.

Celebrating 100 years of existence is a big deal.

That is what Central High School will be doing between June 1st and 4th

In 1922, William Lyon MacKenzie King was the Prime Minister of Canada, Ernest Drury was the Premier of Ontario, and Frederick Banting & Charles Best developed insulin treatment for diabetes. Lincoln Alexander was born in Hamilton in ‘22 – he would become Canada’s first black MP and Cabinet Minister and eventually the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

At the same time, what was then known as Burlington High School welcomed its first students to a building that had five classrooms open for fewer than 100 students. Over the years, the school’s name has changed several times, but the strength of the community has not.

It was a big deal when it first opened. It was a bigger deal when there was a move to close it – and it is an even bigger deal for the 2300 plus people who will take part in the reunion events

For the more than 2300 people taking part in the reunion event, it might be the first time they have seen each other since the 75th anniversary. More than a two decades of catching up to do.

The Central Reunion is much more than a catching up. They are celebrating a unique institution that was a critical part of the evolution of the city.

The four day event is packed with activities.

Thursday will include sports activities, Career Day and social events for current and former staff. The sports events are a reflection of how change takes place – the pickle ball event is now closed – all the court time has been taken up.  Pickle ball hardly existed when the graduates met last for the 75th anniversary.

Dinners have been set up for four different time frames – one can imagine the conversations that will take place.

Teri Ruf, former principal of Burlington Central High School and co-coordinator of the 100th anniversary reunion.

The Reunion work is headed up by Terry Ruf and Todd Ford; both were staff members at Central before they retired; one a principal and the other a department head. They head up a team of 24 people that field all the questions and make sure that things that weren’t quite right the first time are right the second time

Central has what every first high school in any community had – it drew from a catchment area that included students from farm families on Maple as well is as those who lived in what we call the downtown core today.

In the beginning schools were a municipal responsibility; when new space was needed they had to appeal to what was then a Town Council – and they didn’t always get what they asked for.

Burlington was of course a much small community.  The QEW didn’t even exist then

There is an event, takes place on the Friday, called the Alumni Career Day, where graduates who went on to build a business will be on hand to tell students what it was that made them the success they became. Wonder what Steve Cussons will have to say to these students about the printing business – a sector of the economy that has changed as much as the high school. The best advice any successful business or professional person can give these days is:  be nimble.

What would become, for a period of time, as the transit service for the city, started when C. H. Norton used what might have been a truck to transport rural students to the new high school.  The story goes that he eventually bought a Pierce Arrow limousine that could carry seven passengers and grew that into the first transit service the city had.

A wall on the second floor of the school memorializes those who were lost.

One of the unique aspects of Burlington Central is the board and portraits on the second floor that commemorates those former students who served in the two World Wars -particularly those who perished during their service.

Some will perhaps feel a connection because the name of a parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle is memorialized on the Board of Honour, or you may just want to honour those brave men and women for their service.

On the closing day of the four day event there will be a ceremony at the Cenotaph in Veteran Square to celebrate the memory of a very special group of Burlington Central alumni.

Burlington’s population shot up in the mid to late forties with immigrants from war torn Europe coming to Canada.  Central was for a time an ESL – English is as a Second Language school.

Over time it became a school that had a strong drama department that has continued to grow.  There is now a tradition, more than just a tradition in the hearts of the students who are on stage or backstage building sets or promoting an event  – a sense that they are carrying that tradition forward and enriching it each year.

But the history of the school and what it has done is not what the reunion is about. It is about the people who attended and were shaped by two building that were mere yards apart.

For those who attended Central Public School and then moved on to the high school meant, for thousands, spending at least ten years of their lives in a very small area.  Add in JK & SK and you get to 12 years – no wonder memories are so strong.

Mature trees frame the front entrance of the oldest high school in the city.

Those who put themselves in the 40 to 50 cohort will have the most to look back on, reflecting perhaps, on how well they did and how well their children are doing.

Expect a lot of rejoicing, remembering and reflecting.

Marriages, divorces and deaths will be part of the conversations as people who have, for the most part, done well.

Will anything be different when it is all over? You never know with human beings do you

2,300 people have registered for the event.  Co-coordinator Terry Ruf expect that number to rise to 2500 before things begin June 1st.

Day by Day


Career Day for current students featuring alumni speakers

Co-Ed Alumni Athletics:

    Golf Tournament  (now closed)

    Hockey  (now closed)

    Volleyball  (now closed)

    Basketball  (now closed)

    Pickleball  (now closed)

Former & Current Staff Social        


Friday, June 2

Friday Evening Marquee Tent Event

Music Theatre Performance


Saturday Daytime School Events

    Opening Ceremony

    School Open House (call for memorabilia)

    Family Fun Fair & Lunch

    Meet the Staff

    Music Theatre Matinee  

Saturday Evening Decade Events






Sunday Memorial Event – 11:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. at the Cenotaph in Veteran Square

Breakfast – 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the Cafeteria

Many will take part in the Sunday breakfast recovering from the Saturday evening events. They will want to once again join their friends and take one more tour of the school for “old times’ sake”.

Closing Ceremony – 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Auditorium

The concluding celebration of the 100th Anniversary Reunion is a chance to say goodbye until we they come together again in 2047 for Burlington’s Central’s 125th Anniversary!






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