Heads of School

1915 – 1920: Theodora Philpot

Her vision… To create a “joyous, strong, companionable and free” community. 

Born in Burma to Scottish parents, she trained as a teacher in California, founded a school in New York and left it to come to Canada. She founded the Rockcliffe Preparatory School (now Elmwood School) in 1915.

1920 – 1950: Edith Buck

Her vision… To create an English public school in the Canadian capital. 

English-born Edith Button came to Elmwood as a teacher in 1917 and married a Canadian. She set in place many Elmwood traditions, such as a prefect system and the three Houses.

1950 – 1955: Emily Graham

Her vision… To awaken intellectual curiosity. 

Emily Graham was a Cambridge-educated mathematician and intellectual who taught at Queen’s University before coming to Elmwood.

1955 – 1962: Kathleen Bruce

Her vision… To inculcate Christian values into education. 

She was the first Canadian headmistress, a high school teacher in the public system and an army wife. She first came to Elmwood to supply teach and stayed on.

1962 – 1969: Patricia Blyth

Her vision… To meld Christian traditions with modern curricula. 

Oxford-educated, she modernized programs without sacrificing Elmwood’s traditional emphasis on literacy, culture and philanthropy.

1969 – 1982: Joan Whitwill

Her vision… To establish a centre of academic excellence. 

An Oxford-educated scholar, she came to Elmwood as a history teacher and, as Head, introduced the International Baccalaureate Programme.

1982 – 1990: Margaret White

Her vision… To shape Elmwood as a recognized leader in women’s education. 

A graduate of the University of Manchester, she saw the demand for women’s education increase and oversaw two major expansions at Elmwood.

1990–1996: Morag Gundy

Her vision…To open the doors of science and maths to young women

This Scottish-born graduate in biology from the University of Toronto supervised expansion of the school facilities and modernization of the curriculum. 

1996–2003: Carol Kirby

Her vision…To prepare young women for global leadership

Newfoundland-born and educated, her challenge was to adapt the school within a global context and to integrate technology into the curriculum.  

2003–2007: Helen Spence

Her vision…To achieve excellence through role modelling and mentorship

A native of Manhattan and formerly a principal in a public school, she promoted an active lifestyle, environmental responsibility and international citizenship.  

2008 - 2019: Cheryl Boughton

Her vision…To create a place where each girl is inspired to reach her full potential

Educated at Queen’s University, she has helped solidify Elmwood’s reputation for excellence through her ongoing commitment to student success, visionary leadership, and innovative design-thinking.

From 2019: James Whitehouse