Claude Watson School for the Arts

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Claud Watson School for the Arts
130 Doris Avenue

TypeSpecialized arts school
MottoArts, Hearts, and Minds
School boardToronto District School Board
Enrollment300 (2006)

The Claude Watson School for the Arts (CWSA) is a public art school for grades 4-8 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The Claude Watson School for the Arts was founded in 1981 after the North York Board of Education proposed a school with a program for artistically gifted individuals in February 1980. Neil P. Johnston was the school's first principal.[1] When the CWSA was opened, it had a capacity of 175 students.[2]

In 1998, a proposition by Bramalea Ltd. to redevelop the CWSA Spring Garden campus into high-rises with a school in their midst was rejected by the school's trustees.[3] In 2003, the Toronto District School Board sold approximately half of the school's 1.6 hectare campus to private buyers with the intention of utilizing the funds for improvements to the school.[4]

In October 2017, the Toronto District School Board proposed ending specialty schools in Toronto, including the Claude Watson School for the Arts. The motion was retracted within a month of the initial proposal.[5]


The Claude Watson School for the arts uses an audition process to select its students.[6]


Students at the Claude Watson School for the Arts spend half of their day learning traditional school subjects and the other half participating in specialized arts learning. CWSA offers arts programming in four subject areas: music, dance, drama and visual arts.[7] The dance department at CWSA was founded by Maxine Heppner.[8] CWSA uses an extended school day to allow for specialized arts training while meeting provincial curriculum requirements.[9]

As of 2006, CWSA has a maximum of 300 students.[10]


Spring Garden location[edit]

The former campus of the Claude Watson School for the Arts was located northeast of Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue on Spring Garden Avenue.

Doris Avenue location[edit]

The current campus of the Claude Watson School for the Arts is located at 130 Doris Avenue in Toronto's northern precinct. The Doris Avenue CWSA building was completed in 2007 and designed by Kohn Shnier Architects.[11][12] The building has a cantilevered library that sits overtop an outdoor amphitheatre and a brise-soleil with hexagonal patterning.[13] The Doris Avenue camps has LEED Silver certification.[11]

Claude Watson Secondary Arts Program[edit]

The Claude Watson School for the Arts is affiliated with the Claude Watson Secondary Arts Program for high school students run out of the Earl Haig Secondary School. Students graduating from CWSA are not guaranteed entry into the Secondary Arts Program and must audition.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "About Us | Our History". Retrieved 2020-07-14.
  2. ^ Dennis, Wendy (1981-10-19). "Charting a brighter course for genius". Maclean's | The Complete Archive. Retrieved 2020-07-24.
  3. ^ Ainsworth, Lynne (1998-06-28). "Four highrises around school for arts rejected: [NOR Edition]". Toronto Star. p. N1. ISSN 0319-0781 – via ProQuest.
  4. ^ Rushowy, Kristin (2003-12-06). "Schoolyard condos already under way; North York site has already been sold to developer Plan for Bloor Collegiate as well as North Toronto: [ONT Edition]". Toronto Star. p. P02. ISSN 0319-0781 – via ProQuest.
  5. ^ a b Alphonson, Caroline (2017-10-24). "TDSB drops proposal to phase out specialized schools". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2020-06-29.
  6. ^ Duffy, Andrew (1993-07-07). "Do gifted students need a special high school? Taxpayers are helping to keep Darrell Tan, a doctor's son, at UTS. The education minister's decision to eliminate the $1.3 million grant to the school has prompted a debate about excellence, fairness, and elitism.: [AM Edition]". Toronto Star. p. A23. ISSN 0319-0781 – via ProQuest.
  7. ^ Teitel, Jay (2000). "Learning to the beat of a different drummer". Today's Parent. Vol. 17 no. 8. p. 100. ISSN 0823-9258 – via ProQuest.
  8. ^ Silver, Erin (2001-06-14). "Across Oceans brings artists and performers to Toronto". Canadian Jewish News. 31 (26). p. 40. ISSN 0008-3941 – via ProQuest.
  9. ^ "Future Students | The CWSA Program". Retrieved 2020-07-14.
  10. ^ "Today's Parent third annual Top Schools in Canada". Canada NewsWire. Ottawa. 2006-08-14 – via ProQuest.
  11. ^ a b "CLAUDE WATSON SCHOOL FOR THE ARTS" (PDF). Retrieved 2020-06-30.
  12. ^ "Claude Watson School for the Arts - Project". Architype. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  13. ^ Bozikovic, Alex; McHugh, Patricia (2017). A Guidebook to Contemporary Architecture in Toronto. McClelland and Stewart. pp. 148, 286. ISBN 978-0-7710-5990-2 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ MacDonald, Sarah (2019-05-14). "How Sarah Gadon tackles the challenges of doing meaningful work in an era of binge culture". CBC News. Retrieved 2020-06-29.