History of WCI


Woodstock Collegiate Institute owns a rich tradition of celebrating excellence in academics, the arts, technology and athletics. WCI had its origin in Woodstock's first grammar or high school which was established by an Act of Parliament in 1841. This first school was located at the corner of Dundas and Wellington streets until 1851 when a new site was chosen at the corner of Graham and Hunter. By 1881, the grammar school had out grown its building so a larger school was erected on Riddell Street and was known as the Woodstock Collegiate and Vocational Institute. By 1939, the "Collegiate" as it was known, once again had become overcrowded and a large area including the gymnasium and the shop wing had been condemned as unsafe. The "new" WCI was officially opened on January 19, 1940 a few months after the beginning of World War Two. The Woodstock Sentinel Review boasted of the new school's two storey auditorium to seat 900, a 20-foot high gymnasium with spectators' gallery, terrazzo marble in the change rooms, maple floors in the classrooms and a shooting gallery in the basement. All the windows featured heavy steel casements with bronze fittings. The total cost came to $225,000.

By the turn of the next century, there was serious discussion by the new Thames Valley District School Board to close WCI. However, after many public meetings attended by hundreds of WCI students, staff, parents, alumni, and supporters our school was given a new lease on life. The decision was made to make major renovations to the school including a new boiler, ventilation system, elevator and a security system of 31 cameras. These upgrades cost several million dollars and were completed during the spring and summer of 2001. Since then, WCI has seen several more innovations including; the "Power Surge" studio which makes regular video broadcast announcements, many more computers throughout the school and in the library, an annual Musical Theatre production in the auditorium, Arts & Culture and Sports - Specialist High Skills Majors, and a French Immersion program.  The gym floor had a brand new finish applied in the summer of 2014 and glass backboards in May of 2015.  A full onslaught of new windows were also installed in 2015 before WCI's Homecoming (75th anniversary) in the spring.  WCI's Homecoming also featured the unveiling of the Steve Coad Memorial WCI Athletic Hall of Fame which you can view outside of the gym balcony door.

Woodstock Collegiate Institute is located in an ideal location for our staff and students to access the many cultural facilities in the neighbourhood such as the library, art gallery, museum, and court buildings. The home of the Red Devils and the good old red and white is packed full of school spirit and enthusiasm. WCI's student body is a size that encourages everyone to participate and to feel part of the school. This close feeling of community along with traditions going back more than 160 years are sources of loyalty and pride for our "Red Devil" spirit.

Written by Mr. S. Leighton, WCI History Teacher, 1995-2004
Revised by Mr. E. Molinaro, current WCI Teacher


Art Williams and Edward Baker. Woodstock Bits and Pieces. Erin: Boston Mills Press, 1990
Woodstock Collegiate Institute Oracle. 1939-1940 
Woodstock Museum
Woodstock Sentinel Review, 19 January, 1940



The following article is from the Woodstock Sentinel Review, 18 February, 2015:


In less than a week and a half, 17 Woodstock Collegiate Institute students will be boarding a plane to Taiwan.

The students are gearing up to travel to Taipei, Taiwan, for an exchange with their sister school TamKang High School founded by a famous Oxford County student.

Born in 1844, Zorra Township native Dr. George Leslie Mackay, considered one of Canada's greatest missionaries, graduated from the old Woodstock Collegiate Institute about 150 years ago.

Principal Chris Friesen, who will accompany the students on the trip, said his wish is the trip will open his students' eyes "to things they didn't know existed."

"They won't look at Oxford County or WCI the same way," he said. "It's not that they are going to think less of it -- just different of it."

In May 2014, former Oxford County warden Don McKay proposed the idea of WCI students travelling to Taiwan to become officially twinned with a school in Taipei

The twinning ceremony, Friesen said, will likely be the most official part of the trip.

Friesen said the document is designed to show the "goodwill intent of our schools to learn from each other both through education and culturally."

The students will also explore other local schools, visit the tallest building in Taiwan and meet with local politicians.

Mackay, the first foreign missionary commissioned by the Canada Presbyterian Church, arrived in the port city of Tamsui, Taiwan on Dec. 31, 1871.

Mackay is revered in Taiwan for his missionary work that involved building churches, medical clinics and schools.

Initially shunned in Taiwan as a "black-bearded barbarian," he gained respect by learning the language and culture of the country. He married a Taiwanese woman and besides the college and churches, he established the nation's first hospital.

Mackay, who died in 1901, is considered a national hero by the people of Taiwan.

In celebration of his work, Oxford County and the district of Tamsui were twinned 10 years ago.

The group of students attending the trip are school prefects and will stay at the sister school for 10 days.

The students, along with McKay and Friesen, Woodstock and former warden Don Woolcott and his wife Ferne, will attend the official twinning ceremony of the two schools during their stay.

Students from Taipei will also be travelling to Woodstock at some point to complete the exchange.







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©2023 - 35 Riddell St.   Woodstock, ON   N4S 6L9     Tel. 519-537-1050     Fax 519-537-3668    woodstock@tvdsb.ca  Superintendent: D. Wright, Trustees: D. Cripps, L. Hopkins