Prior to 1912 South Vancouver young people who wanted further education after passing the high school entrance examinations had to attend classes in one of the two Vancouver high schools then in existence, King Edward or Britannia.
On May 28, 1912, South Vancouver's Inspector of Schools recommended to the School Board that a High School be established in South Vancouver. The Board accepted the recommendation unanimously and on August 13, the Inspector appointed Mr. J.T.E. Palmer, a teacher at King Edward, to be principal of the new high school. In September 1912, South Vancouver High School came into existence.
In October 1919, a committee was in full agreement that the building of a high school was imperative for the amelioration of present high school conditions. It was decided that the school be built at the south end of Wilson Park.
The new high school, John Oliver High School, was officially opened on January 21, 1921. The Honourable John Oliver, then Premier of the province, was invited to open the new school named in his honour. This 1920 building, with added classrooms, stood until December 9, 1959, when a disastrous fire destroyed it.
By 1926 enrollment was over 900 and a second unit of eight rooms was built to the west of the main building on 43rd Avenue. This building was for years known as "the Matric building" and later students referred to it as "the barn."
September 1950 saw the opening of a splendid new three storey building on 41st Avenue. The east wing, with classrooms, auditorium, shops and cafeteria, was erected in 1954. A music room was added to the school the next year.
Other additions were yet to be made to the massive John Oliver to enhance learning opportunities. In 1965 a technical education wing was opened. Provision was made for a greatly expanded library in 1970. In 1989 the cafeteria was completely modernized, and went into full operation in November, winning high praise from staff and students.
JOHN OLIVER TODAY
John Oliver is a school of about 1100 students, grade 8 through 12 with a broad spectrum of curricular offerings. We have a teaching staff of nearly 70 teachers with a large support staff. The student population and the surrounding community is culturally and ethnically diverse, with over two-thirds of the students fluent in at least one language other than English.