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About Us



Welcome to the John Diefenbaker Senior School website!  We hope the information you find here is informative and useful.

Presently, we have over 750 students attending JDSS, from grades seven through 12.  We strive to provide an engaging learning environment that considers the different learning needs of our students, along with meaningful extra-curricular activities.  Our motto is “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.”

JDSS has a long history.  Our current school building was erected in 1923.  It included two science labs, a commercial subjects room, six regular classrooms, with a gym and washrooms in the basement.  There were even separate boys and girlsí entrances!

In 1952-53, an addition to the school was undertaken, including a new gym and stage, an industrial arts shop, an agricultural science lab, a home economics room, a library, as well as change rooms, a rifle range, and a storage area for a small farm tractor in the basement.  The basement gym was converted into a cafeteria and kitchen.  The school was renamed Hanover District High School, with rural students attending by bus.

In the late 1950's, a small agricultural barn was built in the present back parking area of JDSS, used for projects by agricultural students.  This barn housed caged laying hens and broilers.  There was also a bee apiary, an orchard, and a garden for students to experiment with potato growing.  During this time period, a welding shop was built in the basement.

1960 brought another addition at the east end of the school, including a typing room and three more regular classrooms.  A small green house was also added.

By 1963, the east end was expanded even further, with the building of another typing room, a business machines room, two science labs, a bigger library, and more classrooms.  Renovations were done to the original building, including renovating the cafeteria and basement kitchen, and adding another small classroom, a sewing room, another gym, and more washrooms.  

In 1968, many rural schools were closed, and students were sent to school in Hanover from a larger area, necessitating further expansion at the school.  With federal and provincial government grants, a 40 room addition was started, with completion over 20 months, including four specialized business education rooms, four science labs, a new greenhouse, 10 tech shops, a third gym with storage and change room areas, a new and larger library, guidance offices, music room, amphitheatre, bigger cafeteria, general office, and several classrooms.  It was at this time, the name of the school was changed to John Diefenbaker Secondary School.  Our school still has a handwritten letter from former Prime Minister Diefenbaker, who was born in nearby Neustadt, stating how pleased he was to have the school named in his honour.

1969 brought another amalgamation:  Grade 13 students from Durham District High School were transferred to JDSS to begin the integration of the two schools.

The new addition was officially opened on May 28, 1970.  The remaining students from Durham District began attending JDSS, swelling the enrollment to 1070 students.  At this time, the first JDSS concert band was formed, and by 1973, the band took its first overseas trip, a 30 day concert tour of Germany!

In 1980, a 400 metre track with field facilities was built, funded mostly by a grant from the Ministry of Culture and Recreation.  A “Wintario” grant allowed for jumping standards, rubber pits, hurdles, football goal posts, soccer nets, and other outdoor sports equipment.  The Hanover Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion partly funded the shed.  The field was renamed the R.A. Crawford Community Centre Playing Field in honour of Principal Mr. Crawfordís retirement.

During the 1990's our school enrollment peaked at approximately 1100 students.

In 2014, our school expanded to include grades 7 and 8 students after an accommodation review process.  Our name changed from John Diefenbaker Secondary School to Ecole John Diefenbaker Senior School.

In addition to offering compulsory education for grades 7 and 8 students, and secondary compulsory education in English, math, science, history, geography, arts, physical education, French, career studies, and civics, our school offers elective credits in visual arts, business, music, drama, fashion, foods, anthropology, psychology and sociology, media studies, law, travel and tourism, parenting, and yearbook, just to name a few courses that try to meet student interests.  French immersion programming is also available at JDSS, from grades 7-12.

Our school now has three computer labs housing PC computers, two labs are classrooms, with a third in the library, along with almost 50 laptops shared by students.  We also have a Mac lab for communications classes.  The learning of typing as a skill has given way to learning about computer studies, such as information science and engineering.  In addition to communications and computer courses, we have construction, manufacturing, and transportation technology courses.  We are proud to offer two “Specialist High School Majors”, one in transportation, the other in information and communications technology, which provide our students with specialized training and certificates in their fields.

Our school has showcased fabulous musical productions over the years, making theatrical memories for sold out audiences and involved students and staff alike.  Other current drama activities include performances by comedy troupe “Wombat Stew” and haunted house productions around Halloween.  Our school bands continue to entertain, with performances at regional Musicfests, seasonal concerts, and local Remembrance Day services.  Our school hosts arts nights to celebrate all arts offered, including drama, visual arts, instrumental and vocal music.

JDSS also has a long history of taking our students abroad, enriching lives, and fostering a love of travel.  Arts students travelled with the school in 2016 to New York City.  Our school band has performed in several Canadian provinces, Europe, and the UK.  International exchange opportunities are available, with students going to learn in other countries and hosting foreign students who learn about Canada while attending at JDSS.  Several other international school trips over the years have taken students to Europe, China, Egypt, and the UK, with hopes of a South American adventure in 2017, pending school board approval.

Extra-curricular sports also enrich our students' lives, through sports like volleyball, basketball, soccer, rugby, golf, football, badminton, hockey, track and field, curling, cross-country, baseball, to name a few.  JDSS has a long tradition of fostering a love of skiing and snowboarding, through the Snowdogs, who visit Blue Mountain for lessons and snow sports four times each winter.  Other extra-curricular activities include participation in the Southern Ontario Model United Nations Assembly, Youth In Action, Gay Straight Alliance, and Studentsí Council, among others.

Many of our students are involved in numerous competitions, such as University of Waterloo math contests, as well as regional and Skills Ontario competitions.  Our Skills Ontario team usually has competitors, and often provincial medallists, in ten or more different skill areas, ranging from prepared speech to precision machining.

Our school also has a Life Skills program designed to provide training for special needs students up to 21 years of age in life skills, vocational skills, and personal life management.  Instruction includes cooking, household management, horticultural activities, functional math and literacy, work skills, and social skills training.

Co-operative education started in Ontario in the 1970's.  Currently, approximately 100 JDSS students each year are involved in co-op placements with local employers and businesses, getting on-the-job training and skills to prepare for future careers and career-related education.

In addition to a great teaching staff, JDSS has had some award winning teachers over the years who have received special recognition.  Mrs. Fischer was awarded a Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence, Mrs. Bender and Mr. Foulds won the Loran “Teachers Building Leaders” Award, Mrs. Sullivan and Mr. Davis were awarded a Bluewater Athletic Association Lifetime Achievement Award, Mr. Morrison won the Skills Canada Dick Hopkins Award of Excellence in Techological Education, Mr. Lau and Mr. Mengers were named to the Society of Descartes Medallists, and Mr. Messerschmidt received the Barbara Wright Award for being an outstanding mentor to students in skilled trades.  We are proud to have had these teachers at JDSS during their careers.

In the 2015-16 school year, JDSS employed 52 teachers, six educational assistants, four office professionals, six custodians, two cafeteria employees, one part-time library technician, several supply teachers, a principal, and two vice principals.

As you can see, JDSS has faced many changes over the years, and change will continue to be a part of our near future when Hanover gets a new school on a new site, with a possible opening date of 2018.

If you have other questions about JDSS, please feel free to contact the school at 519-364-3770.



Historical information in the “About Us” section of our website was compiled from a 1993 paper called “History of John Diefenbaker Secondary School 1923-1992” jointly authored by Bob Crawford, former Principal of JDSS, and former student, Lilian Schaer.


Last Modified: Sep 08, 2016
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