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Continuing Education History

Celebrating 125 Years of Lifelong Learning

Continuing Education 125 AnniversaryAnniversaries are a time for both reflection and celebration. They present an opportunity to look back while embracing the future with optimism.

Throughout its 125-year history, Continuing Education has delivered uniquely rich programming to improve the lives of Calgarians. Today, as part of Chinook Learning Services, Continuing Education offers more than 1,500 in-person and online classes to thousands of adults each year in the areas of computer training, finance, interpersonal skills, school-based training, and writing and workplace skills.

Chinook Learning Services is the Calgary Board of Education's provider of High School Upgrading, Continuing Education, Summer School for Grades 10-12, and Off-Campus programs. Chinook Learning Services was in fact the very first provider of continuing education in Calgary.

Central High School which is now part of the CBE’s Education Centre1898

On March 18, 1898, Shorthand was the first after-school adult education class offered at the former Central High School in Calgary’s Beltline district, which is now part of the CBE’s Education Centre.

1900 - 1950

By the early 1900s, Continuing Education had grown to include skills training programs with a focus on arithmetic and architectural and mechanical drawing. Immigration grew dramatically in this decade, and by 1911, night classes were organized so the city's newest citizens could study English. Night courses were first offered in 1918 and gradually grew in popularity and were soon offered throughout Calgary. Course offerings in the early 1920s included Cooking, Dressmaking, and Millinery (the art of hat making).

During both the first and second world wars, Continuing Education programming was reduced as Canadians turned their attention to serving their country. Many of the department's facilities became temporary homes for military training programs and technical services.

The economic difficulties of the 1930s presented new challenges. A night school was organized with courses offered free for the unemployed. Continuing Education teachers provided their services for one dollar per evening.

The year 1933 saw the formal establishment of the Adult Education Program, with night courses offered in academic, commercial, technical, and extension studies. By 1945, the end of World War II, registration in night courses had almost doubled from the previous year.

1951 - 1970

In 1955, Continuing Education began offering the first training programs for practising teachers. These courses helped teachers address day-to-day classroom challenges.

The year 1963 was an important one for Continuing Education. The program was officially recognized as a department within the Calgary Board of Education. Enrollments reached record numbers with the introduction of new courses including Home Study, Driver Training, and Correspondence.

In 1969, the Unmarried Mother's School was opened in the basement of the Unitarian Church and was soon welcoming students from across western Canada. The Youth Enrichment Program was also launched that year, offering an after-school Art Program for elementary students.

1971 - 2000

Continuing Education assumed responsibility for the English as a Second Language K-12 Program in 1972. Growing unemployment in the mid-1970s led to the development of the first Work Experience Program, a partnership with the Social Services Department of Alberta. The Women's Program, one of the first of its kind in Canada, was established in 1973.

In 1974, Continuing Education assumed responsibility for Academic Summer School, a responsibility it maintains to this day. Alternative High School was developed in 1975, offering an important option for students to succeed academically.

By the early 1980s, growing employment opportunities resulted in the development of the first of many career certificate programs, the Ivy Driscoll Sewing Certificate and the Lorne White Floral Certificate.

In the mid-1980s, the responsibility for the Adult ESL Program was transferred to Continuing Education. Around the same time, the first independent study options were made available.

In 1995, Continuing Education moved to Viscount Bennett Centre where they joined and consolidated administrative services with Adult Academic Services (today known as High School Upgrading).

Continuing Education ran its courses at 60 locations throughout Calgary. Continuing Education marked its 100th anniversary in 1998.

In 2000, Adult Academic Services and Continuing Education were merged and rebranded as Chinook College. They remained as separate departments.

2001 - Today

Due to growing space constraints, Continuing Education moved to Rosscarrock School in 2002. While there, Continuing Education expanded its personal and professional development course offerings. In fall 2005, Chinook College changed its name to Chinook Learning Services. Continuing Education returned to Viscount Bennett Centre in 2011, when space became available.

In the fall of 2018, due to the age and condition of Viscount Bennett Centre, the Calgary Board of Education closed the building and relocated Chinook Learning Services administration and Continuing Education to Lord Shaughnessy High School. Continuing Education’s focus became professional development and corporate training. Adult ESL relocated to Forest Lawn High School and in 2020, due to federal funding constraints, Adult ESL closed.

In March 2020, the pandemic caused Continuing Education to temporarily suspend in-person classes. This provided an opportunity for Continuing Education to upgrade its registration software and provide online registration. In the summer of 2020, in-person classes commenced with many safety protocols in place. With the continuation of the pandemic, fall 2020 saw Continuing Education move many of its in-person courses to virtual delivery.

Today, Continuing Education is moving forward with innovative programming and corporate training opportunities. Both in-person and online learning programs make it possible for learners to pursue their professional and personal goals while accommodating their busy schedules.

The Future

The future is full of uncertainty, but one fact remains - Continuing Education is committed to offering lifelong learning opportunities to Calgarians.