Our History
A Love of Learning Since 1929

Hillcrest Progressive School, Ontario's oldest Jewish Preschool, was founded in the fall of 1929 by a group of parents eager to provide their children with an enhanced Jewish education from pre-school through kindergarten. With a pioneering spirit, these parents worked to establish a school where children would receive an education along modern, progressive lines, including aspects of their Jewish heritage delivered in a manner that made it meaningful to young children.

In 1934 the school was chartered under the name Central Jewish Institute and continued to operate as a non-profit organization, supported only by tuition fees without the benefit of endowments or subsidies of any kind. Hillcrest was originally located in a rented house on Christie Street in downtown Toronto before moving to 574 University Avenue in the early 1930's.

In 1946 the property on University Avenue was expropriated for the construction of the former Mount Sinai Hospital (now the Queen Elizabeth Hospital) and the CJI purchased a house at 561 Avenue Road and converted it for use as the school.

In 1955, the Avenue Road property was sold for redevelopment (it's now an apartment complex with a four-star restaurant in its lobby), and the present location in Hogg's Hollow was purchased. The building was a gracious home set on two acres of wooded land only a few miles from downtown Toronto at the city limits.

In 1977, a parcel of land adjoining the school was sold in order to provide funds to enhance and upgrade the existing facility. The character of the original farmhouse has been carefully maintained in its original, natural setting in the Valley.