A BRIEF CHRONOLOGY OF THE SCHOOL
In 1906 a Church of England Grammar School for girls and boys was established in Cooma with Mr Maurice Barnard as Headmaster. The following year, the equipment and goodwill of the Grammar School were sold for 17 pounds to the Reverend Charles Burgess, Rector of St Paul’s, Cooma, who then established the Manaro Grammar School in 1908. The school bore the same crest currently used by the Canberra Grammar School, but with a different motto: Virtutem Doctrina Paret. In 1926 the Reverend William Edwards was appointed Headmaster.
When Canberra was chosen as the site for the new national capital, an application was made to the Federal Capital Planning Commission for 15 acres of land at the foot of Red Hill for the purpose of transferring the Manaro Grammar School to Canberra and establishing the Canberra Church of England Grammar School. On 5 December 1928, the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Stanley Bruce, laid the foundation stone of the School. Two months later Canberra Grammar School commenced operations under Canon William Edwards as Headmaster.
In 1935 work commenced on the classrooms and boarding accommodation of the east side of what is now the heritage listed main Quadrangle. In 1939 his Excellency the Governor-General, Lord Gowrie, opened the Dining Hall, kitchen, library, and science laboratories. In 1947, Canon Edwards, resigned to join the post-War reconstruction efforts of UNESCO in Greece, and was succeeded in 1948 by Canon David Garnsey who led the School during the recovery period of the post-War decade. On his election as the Bishop of Gippsland in 1958, he was succeeded by Mr Paul McKeown, an Old Boy of the School.
During Paul McKeown’s 27 years as Headmaster, the School underwent extensive change and expansion. In 1960 His Excellency the Governor-General, Sir William Slim, opened the War Memorial Gymnasium (now War Memorial Hall) and in 1962, the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Robert Menzies, opened the new science and administration wing, completing the Quadrangle. The following year, His Excellency the Governor-General, the Viscount De L’Isle, opened the new Junior School. The Chapel of Christ the King opened the year after, and the first of the new boarding houses was opened in 1965. In 1971 the Design, Art and Technology Centre and Stage II of the Junior School were opened, and four years later girls were accepted into the Infants’ Schools. In 1976 The W J Edward’s History Centre was opened, followed by the Music Centre in 1979, the School’s Jubilee Year. The Junior School Hall was opened in 1980, followed by the Pre-School in 1981. In 1985, Mr Paul McKeown retired.
In 1986 Mr Tim Murray became the fourth Headmaster of Canberra Grammar School. During Tim Murray’s Headmastership, the School again experienced considerable development. The Paul McKeown building was opened initially, and in 1990 The Resource Centre and Burton Theatre opened. In 1993 The International Centre was established, followed by the Health and PE Centre in 1996. The Peace Window was installed in the Chapel and dedicated on 16 September of the following year. In 1998 Mr Tim Murray retired as Headmaster, and Mr Simon Murray (no relation) was appointed to the position in June, continuing the School’s development with the opening of the Performing Arts Centre in 2003, the year before the School’s 75th Anniversary, which witnesses celebrations including the Anniversary Ball in the Great Hall of Parliament House, a two day Arts Festival, and the installation of a new organ in the Chapel, a gift of the P&F to the School. In 2010 work began on construction of the new Primary Library and classrooms and Mr Simon Murray was appointed Headmaster of St Peter’s College, Adelaide. As a consequence, the School Chaplain, the Reverend Christopher Welsh, was appointed Headmaster for the year until the appointment of an on-going Head.
In 2011 Dr Justin Garrick commenced as Head of School and the School took the decision to become an International Baccalaureate World School. The boarding houses were also fully refurbished, combined and relaunched as Manaro House in early 2012 as the first phase in a long-term project to renovate and upgrade the School grounds and facilities, including the Early Learning Centre and the Mathematics, English, History and Languages Departments. In 2013, the School received one of the largest donations to a school in Australian history from an Alumni, Mr Terry Snow, and began construction of The Snow Centre for Education in the Asian Century, a strikingly modern classroom facility designed to mark the School’s commitment to a distinctly internationally-oriented education.
In 2015, a Master Plan for redevelopment of the Primary School was launched and major alterations were made to the Southside Infants building. After forty years of co-education in the Infants years, the decision was also taken to begin the School’s transition to full co-education from Pre-School to Year 12 beginning in 2016. In 2017 the School announced its major Campus Development Plan, and as of 2018 the School is fully co-educational from Pre-School to Year 12 (two years ahead of the 2020 target).
In 2019, the School celebrated its 90th Anniversary and completed its transition to full co-education with the first intake of girls into boarding. The School also announced its next stage of evolution the construction of a superb new Auditorium, Centre for Music and Centre for Learning and library at the very heart of its campus, made possible by an extraordinary $20 million donation, from Mr Terry Snow. In addition to Mr Snow’s contribution towards musical excellence at the School, the gift also comes with a very significant commitment to the School’s new Indigenous scholarship and education programmes, as well as to professional learning, substantially enhancing the School’s capacity to deliver on its commitment to educational leadership in Australia.