The Sisters of the Child Jesus arrived in British Columbia in 1898 with a desire to do missionary work with the First Nations people of the North Shore. In 1957, after a half century of teaching involvement in the area, the sisters were approached to support the establishment of a Catholic High School on the North Shore. There was talk of the new school being built in West Vancouver, but when Sr. Dorothy Crowe, Provincial Superior of the order, offered to lease land owned by the sisters for the school, Archbishop Duke accepted and the site for St. Thomas Aquinas High School in North Vancouver was set. The Sisters of the Child Jesus agreed to staff the school.
In 1959 the building was complete and the school opened with Sr. Marie Irene (Rita Tellier) as principal with nine teaching Sisters and two lay teachers. Among the almost two hundred students that first year was Denece Billesberger, a young woman who would in 1964 join the Sisters in their work and eventually become the Provincial of the Canadian Province for her order. Another student was Fr. Jim Comey, the current pastor of Holy Trinity Parish.
Between 1960 and 1975 the Sisters of the Child Jesus continued to administer the school. St. Thomas Aquinas began to participate in extracurricular activities with the neighboring public schools and had many successes in those early years. As time passed, there were fewer sisters on the faculty and in 1976 Ian Stuart became the first lay principal. During his time the school expanded in the areas of physical education, fine arts, academics and extra-curricular activities.
From 1980 to 1985 Doug Lauson, now the Superintendent of Catholic Schools, served as principal. He established the Computer program, Drama program, and introduced Soccer, as well as built up the student enrolment to a level of two classes for each grade.
In 1987 Mrs. Marilyn Williams was appointed principal. She was able to increase the enrolment by 250 students. New courses were introduced such as Honors English and Advance Placement Calculus. The music program was expanded and the annual theatre production begun. More students resulted in more clubs: Improv, Jazz band, Photography, Environment, Chess, Golf, Swimming and Wrestling were added to the athletic roster.
In 1993 a new library was added to the original building. Anyone driving on West Keith Road can easily recognize the library by its high clerestory windows. This spacious and attractive location is the intellectual heart of the school. Shortly after this addition the cafeteria was expanded.
In 1999, Mr. Dan Moric became principal and in 2000 the convent of the Sisters of the Child Jesus was purchased by the archdiocese. This heritage building now houses the music, drama and choir programs. It is also the home of our beautiful chapel. Mr. Moric added a fourth class at each grade level and the school enrolment climbed to 580 from 460. Under his direction, Rowing, Field hockey, Girl's soccer. Gymnastics, Media Arts and Duke of Edinburgh program were added to the school extra curricular activities. The Choir program expanded to Concert and Chamber choir.
In September 2005, a new Science wing was opened, containing four classrooms containing state-of-the-art Laboratories and a Multipurpose room.
In 2007, Dan Moric became the Associate Superintendent of Catholic Schools and Frank Dragojevich became principal. The school population reached over 600. First year University English course was introduced through Corpus Christi College and new initiatives from the Ministry of Education were undertaken.
In 2011, the school gymnasium was completely renovated including new lighting.
In 2012, John Campbell became principal.
St. Thomas Aquinas is known for the excellent academic achievement of its students as reflected in their outstanding results in the annual provincial exams. The gymnasium is decorated with many Regional and Provincial Championship banners. We are fortunate to have a well staffed Learning Resource Centre that was opened in 2000. Our students are also known for the fine work they do with the less fortunate. Many volunteer with the Agape Ministry, assist the Door is Open in serving meals to the hungry, provide Christmas backpacks to the youth of Covenant House and prepare Christmas and Easter meals for the needy in Vancouver.