Our Founder - Monsignor 'Père' Athol Murray

Notre Dame College rose out of the prairies to become the high school it is today because of Monsignor Athol Murray's determination, intelligence, high ideals, and above all, his unwaivering belief in God and the primacy of the spiritual.

Born January 9, 1892 in Toronto, Athol Murray (better known as Père, or Father) was educated in the classics and the liberal arts at Montreal's Loyola College, Toronto's St. Michael's College, St. Hyacinthe College in Quebec and Laval University. While studying law at Toronto's Osgoode Hall, he read the words of St. Augustine of Hippo:
"To him who does what in him lies, God will not deny His grace."
These words impacted his entire life. He entered Toronto's St. Augustine's Seminary, was ordained in 1918 and sent to Regina in 1922 "on loan" from the Diocese of Toronto. One of Murray's first acts was to start an athletic club for boys. When he was appointed to St. Augustine parish in Wilcox, Saskatchewan in 1927, 15 boys followed him - the original Hounds. Through Père Murray's teachings and coaching, youths learned life-altering lessons, spiritually, academically and athletically. Taught in the disciplines of the liberal arts, Père believed in building young minds through teaching the classics; constantly challenging his students' intellect and feeding them a steady spiritual diet. His goal was for Notre Dame students to be able to apply their keen minds and steadfast characters to whatever they wished to master. Murray authored the motto for Notre Dame:
"Luctor et Emergo" -- Struggle and Emerge."
The Order of Canada, our country's highest honour, was bestowed upon Père Murray in 1968. He was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1972. On November 16, 1998, Father Athol Murray was posthumously inducted into the Hockey Hall Fame in Toronto, Ontario.

Our History

In 1920, the Sisters of Charity of St. Louis opened the Notre Dame of the Prairies Convent and St. Augustine residential elementary and high school for boys and girls at Wilcox, Saskatchewan; a small town on the Canadian prairies 49 kilometres (25 miles) south of Regina, the provincial capital. In 1927, a new parish priest arrived—Father (Père) Athol Murray—for whom the college is named today.

In the beginning, the College had no running water or central heat. In 1930, fees were just $18 per month, but many students couldn't afford to pay. Père Murray accepted students on the basis that they desired an education, not on their ability to pay. A side of beef, a chicken, a bucket of coal and produce were often accepted instead of money. Students came from everywhere and from every type of social, cultural and religious background.

Murray was assisted by Sister Mary Edith McCullough. Her teaching career spanned 30 years at Wilcox. Sr. Edith ran the elementary and high schools while Père spent most of his time with the students in the Arts programs. In 1933, Père Murray succeeded in obtaining an official affiliation with the University of Ottawa.

Père Murray believed in the Greek philosophy of developing the mind, body and spirit and envisioned a school that could develop great scholars and athletes through equal emphasis on the disciplines of academics, athletics and faith. Notre Dame's longstanding success in developing well-balanced individuals is a testament to that vision.

Though Père Murray died in 1975, his legacy lives on. Père's beloved Notre Dame College continues to produce many of North America's finest student athletes through a balanced program that emphasizes the values of good character, leadership and community living. Père's motto, "Luctor et Emergo" (Struggle and Emerge), is still reinforced today.

Other references:
  • Père Murray and the Hounds, the story of Saskatchewan's Notre Dame College, by Jack Gorman
  • Père - A Père Murray Compendium, by Jack Gorman
  • Legacy . . . the treasures of Notre Dame, by Jack Gorman
  • The Hounds of Notre Dame - a movie based on the compelling story of Père Murray and the Hounds
  • Tales from the Shacks, by Richard Dukes
  • Notre Dame of the Prairies, by Alice Henderson
  • The Rink, by Chris Cuthbert and Scott Russell