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Norval Outdoor Education Centre

Part of Upper Canada College’s core offerings since 1939, the 430-acre Norval Outdoor School is one of Ontario’s oldest outdoor education centres. Eco-advocates talk about urban kids having a “nature deficit.” There’s no chance of that here.

Norval Outdoor Education Centre

Tapping maple trees and collecting sap is just one of the spring activities at Norval.

In Senior Kindergarten, boys make the 45-minute drive to Norval. Day trips turn into overnight stays in Year 2 through to Year 9, totaling 11 weeks of local wilderness learning. You’ve heard of their adventures, including growing plants, rediscovering pioneer skills or gathering sap to make maple syrup. There’s also a chance to spend supervised but unstructured time playing. Every student in Year 4 and Year 6 goes skiing and snowshoeing on the property. And Year 11 and year 12 students visit Norval occasionally when there’s an opportunity to learn part of the curriculum in the outdoors.

Family Open House Days at Norval
The Norval Outdoor School provides many programs for students throughout the school year. Because of these activities and the relatively small staff at Norval, drop-in visits from the UCC community can’t be accommodated. However, the school provides several opportunities throughout the year for UCC families, including alumni and their families, to explore Norval:

History of Norval and UCC

In the 1820s, right around the time Sir John Colbourne was busy founding UCC, James McNab, a lieutenant in the York Volunteers and veteran of the War of 1812 was given nearly 5,000 acres by the government as a reward for his service to king and country. The government purchased this land, in the north end of what is now Halton Region, from the Chiefs of the Otter and Eagle tribes of the Mississauga aboriginal people. This had taken place in 1818 and was known as “Treaty 19.”

Lieutenant McNab built the first gristmill in the region, and soon the region became populated by tradesman and farmers looking for a place to start a new life. In 1868, Robert Noble, an experienced miller, purchased the mill and surrounding lands. He and his children ran the mill and rented out much of the 5,000 acres to tenant farmers. He gave his son, Dr. Robert Noble Jr., a tract of just over 500 acres to manage.

Dr. Noble lived in Toronto, although he did have a small bungalow on his property. He may well have found it tiring being landlord to four different farm families working his lands. In 1912, UCC began looking to relocate to a more rural setting. School representatives were introduced to Dr. Noble and his property north of Norval. Although UCC purchased the land from Dr. Noble in 1913, the relocation was delayed by the onset of the First World War, and the idea of moving the College to Norval was eventually dropped.


100 Years Norval Outdoor School