Collège des Grands-Lacs

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Collège des Grands-Lacs
Stewart Building Toronto.jpg
Typefrancophone College of Applied Arts and Technology
Location, ,

Collège des Grands-Lacs (lit. "Great Lakes College") was a francophone College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[1] It was established in 1995 as Ontario's third college specifically serving the Franco-Ontarian population, after La Cité collégiale in Ottawa and Collège Boréal in Sudbury.[2]

Launch and operations[edit]

It began as a "virtual college" which had no central campus, and instead offered instruction through student access centres in Toronto, Hamilton, Penetanguishene, Welland and Windsor.[2] Instructors located in any of the access centres delivered course lectures to all five locations simultaneously through videoconferencing technology, and students outside of those areas could also access the college's courses through partnerships with other educational institutions or through distance education.[3]

In 1999, a permanent campus was opened in Toronto, in the Stewart Building at 149 College Street which had recently been vacated by the Ontario College of Art and Design. By this time the access centres in Welland and Windsor were considered full satellite campuses, although the ones in Hamilton and Penetanguishene were still classified as access centres.[4]

In 2000, the college was reported by the media as the subject of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation into a fraud allegation around misuse of government funds,[5] which briefly caused the delay of a federal government announcement of new funding to all three of Ontario's francophone colleges.[6] Within days, however, the RCMP confirmed that the college was not under investigation.[7]

Soon thereafter, the college began exploring a proposal to move its Welland campus to the then-proposed new Welland Civic Centre.[8]


In 2001, the college's board of governors decided to close the college, due to declining enrolment.[9] Some supporters of the college tried to obtain a court injunction against the shutdown, but were not successful.[10] Second-year students were allowed to complete their programs with Collège des Grands-Lacs as it wound down, while first-year students were offered transfers to the equivalent programs at Collège Boréal.[11] The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities begin negotiations with College Boréal to offer programs in Central and Southwestern Ontario.[12]

The college ceased operations in 2002. Its programs and services were taken over by Collège Boréal;[13] initially offering its classes at the Carlaw Avenue campus of Centennial College in Toronto,[14] Boréal moved to its own new campus at One Yonge Street in 2012.[15]

Some community members and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union continued to fight for the college to be reopened under the constitutional principle of respect for and protection of minority rights;[16] the case, Gigliotti v Conseil d'administration du Collège des Grands Lacs, was heard by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2005.[17] The court dismissed the case, noting that minority language rights had not been violated since Collège Boréal had stepped in to continue offering French-language college education programs in the regions formerly served by Grands-Lacs.[18]

A 2012 report by the provincial Commissioner of French Language Services into French language education in Southwestern Ontario identified both the school's original "virtual college" model, which left it unable to truly build a profile as a French-language cultural institution or community hub in the cities it served, and the financial challenges resulting from its subsequent conversion to a more conventional campus-based model, as factors in the school's eventual failure.[19]


  1. ^ "A tower of learning for francophones". The Globe and Mail, October 16, 1995.
  2. ^ a b "New college goes hi-tech". Windsor Star, August 28, 1995.
  3. ^ "Francophone college students in cyberspace". Windsor Star, May 13, 1996.
  4. ^ "Local campus of College des Grands Lacs gets $14M grant". Welland Tribune, April 19, 2000.
  5. ^ "Police probe French college". Windsor Star, March 31, 2000.
  6. ^ "RCMP report stalls heritage funding". Calgary Herald, March 30, 2000.
  7. ^ "Delayed funds coming `soon,' Boreal told". Sudbury Star, March 31, 2000.
  8. ^ "French college showing some interest in civic centre location". Welland Tribune, July 12, 2000.
  9. ^ "The College des Grands Lacs recommends that the Ontario government wind down the College". Canada NewsWire, October 5, 2001.
  10. ^ "French-language college closing". Sudbury Star, December 6, 2001.
  11. ^ "Boreal to take Toronto students". Sudbury Star, October 12, 2001.
  12. ^ Ross, Dave. "Statement from Dianne Cunningham Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities about Collège des Grands Lacs". Government of Ontario. Queen's Printer for Ontario. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  13. ^ "Sudbury's College Boreal turns 20". Sudbury Star, November 28, 2015.
  14. ^ "College Boreal finds Toronto location". Sudbury Star, May 29, 2002.
  15. ^ "College Boreal to spend $3.8 million on new Toronto campus". Sudbury Star, January 25, 2012.
  16. ^ "OPSEU continues court fight for Francophone College". Canada NewsWire, August 28, 2003.
  17. ^ "Community college". Mississauga News, June 19, 2005.
  18. ^ "Gigliotti v Conseil d’administration du Collège des Grands Lacs". Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, 2005.
  19. ^ "Investigation Report – The State of French-Language Postsecondary Education in Central-Southwestern Ontario: No access, no future". Office of the French Language Services Commissioner, June 27, 2012.