Traditions, Symbols and Ideals

While still priding ourselves on innovation and thought leadership, Elmwood is characterized by a deep respect for our traditions and an abiding appreciation of our history.

Mrs. Philpot was responsible for choosing the symbols and colours of the school. In doing so, she was inspired by the famous poem of William Wordsworth, “The Daffodils,” for she found it very much in keeping with her educational vision. “The daffodil became for me a symbol, in its happy way,” she wrote, “of growing in merry companies and open spaces, joyous, strong, companionable and free.” Today, the flower-shaped emblem that she designed – the Philpot Token – is still awarded annually to the girl who best embodies that vision.

The motto of the school, however, came later. “Highest of the High,” was taken from the school song, “Summa Summarum,” which was composed by music mistress Miss Tipple in the 1920s. The school hymn, “To Be a Pilgrim,” is sung at assemblies and appreciated for its beautiful melody and lofty vision of life as an adventure requiring courage, high ideals and hard work.

The “samara” – the seed pod of the elm tree – was also adopted as an emblem and as the name of the school yearbook, which records so much of the Elmwood story over time.

Students are grouped into Houses at Elmwood, the first three being created in 1927 and named for inspiring women (Nightingale, Fry and Keller). A fourth, Wilson, was added in 1982 and named for a modern Canadian hero, Cairine Wilson.