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.
Ashbury College is in its 130th year. Over time, the school has amassed a substantial collection of materials in need of proper identification, cataloguing, preservation, and organization. Creating a school archives is an ongoing process requiring an investment in, and commitment to, preserving Ashbury’s legacy, the benefit of which will be lasting.
Archives have value to organizations, communities, and individual people. They provide evidence of activities which occurred in the past, they tell stories, document people and identity and are valuable sources of information for research. They are our recorded memory and form an important part of our community, cultural, official and unofficial history.
Vicky Wilgress, Ashbury’s longest standing champion and cheerleader, has dedicated 35 years of service to Ashbury. In that time, Vicky has played a key role in our community, helping to engage countless alumni, parents, faculty, and friends of Ashbury in the life of the school. In honour of Vicky’s service to Ashbury, and the Wilgress Family – of which five attended Ashbury (see below) – Ashbury wishes to create an archival space and dedicate as The Wilgress Archives.
Wilgress Family at Ashbury College:
- Victor Wilgress ’39 (Vicky’s father, WWII veteran, and former Governor)
- Ted Wilgress ’75 (Vicky’s brother)
- Edward Wilgress ’40 (Vicky’s uncle, WWII veteran)
- J.C. Edwards ’27 (Vicky’s uncle)
- Tyler Wilgress ’03 (Vicky’s son)
- Charles Burrows ’41 (Godfather, WWII veteran)
The purposes of the Wilgress Archives:
- To provide resources and a space for celebrating Ashbury’s history.
- To be a repository for historically valuable documents, materials, and artifacts.
- To be a resource for teaching research-related skills to students.
The proposed archival space, Room A-111, is a 13ft x 25ft office, located within Rhodes Hall, a historically significant space, located beneath Ashbury’s Chapel. The room provides adequate space to combine display cases, pull-out display drawers, and some appropriate storage space for archival materials. The space is large enough for a class to visit and spend time in the archives, but not large enough to serve as full archival storage. Tall windows allow beautiful light in the space, and its location is convenient and accessible for visitors and parking. Rhodes Hall is part of Ashbury’s heritage campus, which embeds the archival space with a deep sense of its history.
Generous support of the project has poured in, but we need your help to reach our goal! To make a donation supporting the Wilgress Archives, please click here. All gifts are eligible for a charitable tax receipt. For more information, please contact Stephanie Young, Director of Development.