Ashbury College was founded in 1891 by George Penrose Woollcombe, an ambitious Oxford University graduate and a new Canadian, who served as Ashbury's Headmaster for 42 years.
The three-room school for boys was originally located on Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa, moving to larger quarters also on Wellington Street and then on to Argyle Street in 1890 near the present Museum of Nature. In 1910, the school - called Ashbury College after Woollcombe's English home - moved to its current 13-acre location in the heart of Rockcliffe Park. With the support of Ottawa benefactors, a new building was constructed for the 115 students, 48 of whom were boarders.
More additions to the school in 1972 accommodated a student population of more than 300. In 1982, girls were enrolled for the first time in the senior school. With the financial support of Ashbury families and friends, a new gymnasium was added in 1985. This was followed by the completion of the new Napier wing in 1994 to house the Junior School. Later that year the Ashbury theatre, computer labs, several special purpose classrooms and the Teron Foyer were completed. The Heather Gillin Residence for girls was opened in 1999 to enhance Ashbury's boarding program.
In fall 2004, a new dining room (named Maclaren Hall), a double gymnasium and four new classrooms were opened. The main floor science lab and front offices were also renovated. Expansion of the Heather Gillin residence for girls began in June 2006 and the new boys residence was completed in September 2009.
Today, Ashbury has 170 boys and girls in the Junior School and 515 young men and women, 100 of whom are boarding in the Senior School.
The Life and Times of George Penrose Woollcombe:Educator
by Stephen Woollcombe
A Character of its Own: Ashbury College 1891-1991
Written by Tony German
Foreword by: The Hon. Robert L. Stanfield
Locations at a Glance
70 Argyle Avenue
186 Wellington Street
Ashbury House School
Corner of Wellington and O’Connor Street
Mr. Woollcombe’s School