Then & Now

Bellerose Composite High School

May, 2024

The short, yet colourful history.

When St. Albert’s Paul Kane High School in the public system was experiencing an overflow of students on its premises, thoughts turned to creating another facility to accommodate that growth. The result was the construction of Bellerose Composite High School, which successfully tackled that expansion of teens when it opened. Today, the school, located on 49 Giroux Road has diversified its education menu to include an International Baccalaureate program and a Sports Academy. It’s also home to a variety of Bellerose Bulldogs teams, from football and basketball to volleyball and track, cheered on by its mascot, Rosie the Bulldog.


Construction begins on the school in 1987, with the doors officially swinging open in September 1988 to welcome its inaugural crowd of 514 Grades 10 and 11 students to the completed facility. It’s decided that the new building would be named to honour Octave Bellerose, who had established St. Albert’s first school in 1886.


The first-ever graduating class of Bellerose, roughly 150 students, finally earn their mortarboards and robes in 1990. Barely a decade after it first opened, increasing enrolment prompts discussions concerning further expanding the school, in the
form of a two-storey section to be built, adding eight more classrooms to the facility.


Bellerose’s graduating class of 2000 consists of nearly 220 students who leave the school with diplomas. With construction on the new section of the school completed in 2000, Bellerose also adds two more portables connected by a foot-traffic link in 2002. Two years later, a freestanding portable also shows up on the premises. By 2005, the school’s attendance surpasses the 1,100 mark, more than double the number when Bellerose opened 17 years earlier.

The school begins to distinguish itself for its charitable campaigns, most notably the bike-a-thons, in which students pedal on stationary bikes, on occasion for up to 48 hours to raise money for worthy causes. In 2006, Bellerose teens pedal until they raise around $57,000 for the Cross Cancer Institute, roughly $47.50 per participant.


Nearly 300 students comprise Bellerose’s Class of 2010, who graduate from a secondary institution that has seen a great deal of change and will likely see more. The school’s annual bike-a-thon also witnesses a number of records broken in terms of donations, including a 2010 event that sees them raise $107,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society, the second-largest donation ever given to the organization by a school at the time. 

In 2017, Bellerose briefly turns into a movie set for a modern-day, high school version of the 19th century romantic stage play Cyrano de Bergerac. In the Canadian-produced flick, “#Roxy,” actor Danny Trejo, best known for portraying baddies in outings like “Desperado” and “Sons of Anarchy,” defies his villain stereotype by playing the school principal. The movie also includes “Degrassi: The Next Generation” star Sarah Fisher and “Twilight Saga” actor Booboo Stewart.

The provincial government reveals plans in 2019 to modernize Bellerose and create space to accommodate 275 more students. The $46.3 million project would additionally renovate part of the building. Once completed, the facility would be able to provide education for roughly 1,600 students. The Bellerose project is announced as part of the government’s $397-million endeavour to upgrade 25 schools in the province.


While a pandemic grips the planet during the start of the decade, Bellerose is among schools in the city that endures everything from lockdowns to social distancing and mask-wearing. Its graduation ceremonies in 2020 turns out to be the most unusual in the school’s 30-year history. To mitigate the risks of COVID infection, 337 Grade 12 students receive their caps and gowns in the gymnasium, put them on, and take part in an outdoor procession, before wrapping up the ceremonies with slices of wood-fired pizza.

While most schools cancel several of their events during the pandemic, Bellerose comes up with ways to keep those activities going while trying to mitigate the spread of infection, and maintaining the school’s Bulldog spirit. Solutions include holding their theatrical events and their annual bike-a-thon outdoors.

St. Albert Public Schools reports in 2022 that the $46.3 modernization project subsidized by the provincial government has been approved. Attendance at Bellerose that year sits at 1,076, although the school has a capacity to accommodate up to 1,353. Just as impressive is the school revealing in 2024 that in the 20-plus year history of its bike-a-thons, the campaigns had raised a cumulative $3.5 million for cancer research.t8n

Who was Octave Bellerose?

Born in 1849, Octave Bellerose was one of 13 children raised by pioneering couple Olivier Bellerose and wife Josephte-Suzette Savard, who owned more than 800 hectares of land at River Lot #35. 

He was well-known for his equine skills, which came in handy as a second lieutenant with the St. Albert Mounted Riflemen, assembled to prevent an incursion of the Riel Rebellion in 1885.The following year, after the end of the rebellion, Bellerose established a school on his land, the first of its kind in the
St. Albert Catholic School district. The original schoolhouse was actually a converted barn, which has since been preserved and moved to Fort Edmonton Park.

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