Ask Alicia – P.K. Kerwin Senior Elementary School

Hi Alicia,

Someone mentioned to me the other day that there used to be a school in St. Catharines called Kerwin School. I looked it up but couldn’t find much about it.  Can you tell me where it was located?

Thank you,



Great question Susan. The school you are referring to was called P.K. Kerwin Senior Elementary School.  It was named after a local lawyer Patrick .K. Kerwin who had donated the piece of land that the school was constructed on. Patrick Kerwin was born in Guelph in 1917 and was called to the bar in 1941.  His future wife, Mary Gertrude Doyle, was the reason Kerwin settled in St. Catharines where he worked as a lawyer for over 50 years, was a former president of the Lincoln County Law Association and also served as chairman of the separate school board.  Kerwin died in 1997 and was survived by his five children.

Google Street View 2016/9/7


P.K. Kerwin School was built on the donated land which was located at 541 Lake Street and in 1967 was named in Kerwin’s honour. It initially served only grades seven and eight students.  After only one year, the school increased in enrollment and reputation. Grades nine and ten were later added, and in 1984, grade 11 classes were offered under the name of Denis Morris Catholic High School, Kerwin Campus.

In September 1985 the school was re-christened as Holy Cross Secondary School. The facility offered grade twelve classes as well, while grades seven and eight had been eliminated. In 1993, due to overcrowding, Holy Cross relocated to the former Grantham High School building, which was shut down by the District School Board of Niagara that same year due to declining enrollment. The former Holy Cross building would become St. Francis Catholic Secondary School.

Although there is no longer a P.K. Kerwin School in St. Catharines, the library at the current Holy Cross Secondary School still bears the name in honour of Patrick Kerwin.

Rowing shirt worn by 2 time member of Canada’s Jr. National Rowing Team, Krista Whittard in 1983-1984, who with her team won silver and gold at the Henley Regatta. St. Catharines Museum 1999.110.1A


The St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre, located next to Lock 3 of the historic Welland Canal, is a leading local history museum and community gathering place, engaging visitors and building relationships with partners, while demonstrating curatorial leadership and innovative programming and exhibits. The St. Catharines Museum is dedicated to engaging visitors in the celebration of our local stories and the cultural identity and history of the City. We are a community resource that interprets, exhibits, researches, acquires, and preserves material culture and stories of St. Catharines.


  1. Interesting i attended there lots of fun times for grade seven and eight. Didnt realize why it was named that til now. Remind me to never donate land to a school board the poor mans name was and is almost obliterated from history.

  2. To the best of our knowledge neither I nor my siblings heard anything about land donated by our father for the school. Our understanding the school was named for him because of all the work that he had done for the Catholic School Board.

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