Our History

TFS is not your typical school.

Very few schools can claim that they started in a basement, and then expanded into classrooms located in churches, synagogues and skating-rink change rooms.

Our origins in 1962 were in the basement of the home of Harry and Anna Giles, founders of Toronto French School. They were impassioned by the emerging sense of Canada as a country of two languages and many cultures. Frustrated by the lack of educational options for their own children, they started a bilingual school in their home with six students and a francophone teacher from Beirut.

Their radical experiment was wildly successful, and soon the Giles and their supporters were scrambling for class space around the Greater Toronto area. Each location was called a branch, and at their peak, they stretched from Mississauga in the west, to Don Mills in the east.

In those early days, Harry Giles recruited teachers directly from France, as well as from other francophone nations such as Algeria and Lebanon, and from England and Germany. Some French nationals even became teachers at TFS to fullfill their national service!

The school continued to grow. In 1971, a new building was constructed at 101 Mildenhall Avenue, in the Lawrence Park neighbourhood of Toronto; it was TFS' first high school. In 1981, the school purchased 318 Lawrence Avenue East, just a short walk from Mildenhall. The oldest and grandest of the three mansions on the former Sir Clifford Sifton estate, it was designated the new high school, while 101 Mildenhall became home to younger students.

One year later, TFS acquired the remaining two mansions, giving the school almost all the property from Mildenhall to Bayview along Lawrence Avenue. Today, the Toronto campus is home to La p'tite école (age 2 to Grade 1), the Junior School (Grade 2 to 5) and the Senior School (Grade 6 to Grade 12/Level V), and is situated across eight acres. Behind the building is a true natural treasure: our own 26-acre portion of the Don Valley ravine.

Our West Campus, part of the TFS family since 1966, is a very special place. Sunny and intimate, it offers programs for students from PK (age 3) to Grade 7, with most students opting to continue at the Senior School once they have completed Grade 7. Close-knit, those who attend our West Campus often call themselves TFS' Mississauga family.

TFS has come a long way: from a basement to two beautiful campuses, and from six students in 1962 to more than 1,300 students, more than 50 years later.

What hasn't changed is TFS' promise to you: we are co-educational, bilingual and non-denominational.

We are Canada's international school.

View our interactive timeline.  

Travel back to 1962 and follow TFS' Incredible Journey over our first 50 years.

TFS Timeline Thumbnail