Welcome & History

Message from the Director General

Dear Visitors,

Welcome to our website and to John Abbott College. Since you are reading this message, I would like you to remember just one thing – at John Abbott, people come first!

For future students, we work very hard to ensure that everything we do is focused on student learning. Our outstanding academic programs and student services help develop your minds, our sports/fitness programs and excellent athletic facilities help develop your bodies, and our diverse cultural and social activities help develop your creativity and citizenship. We make every effort to support each student as they become autonomous learners who are well prepared and passionate about their future.

For future employees, we truly believe that you will not find a better college environment. Our world-class faculty and staff work tirelessly to create an honest, positive and collaborative atmosphere that is truly focused on student success. Effective support of student success cannot be sustained unless employees are also able to enjoy what they do. Yes, enjoying ourselves and working hard are key elements of the “John Abbott Spirit”.

In summary, we have great academics, outstanding student services and one of the most beautiful campuses in Canada. Thank you for your virtual visit, but I strongly encourage you to come and visit us in person. John Abbott College can only truly be experienced by walking around and talking to our students and staff, because here, people come first!

I hope to see you soon.

John Halpin
Director General


John Abbott College’s History and Background

John Abbott College is one of five English language CEGEPs in Québec.  Named after Sir John Abbott, Canada’s third Prime Minister, the College primarily serves the Greater Montreal region, though you can also meet students here from other parts of Québec and the rest of Canada. The College also has a significant number of international students as part of its community.  In total, over 6,500 students are enrolled in the Day Division and about 2,000 in the Continuing Education Division.

The College was incorporated in 1970, merely two years after the Québec CEGEP system was launched in 1968.  In September of 1971, John Abbott welcomed roughly 1200 young men and women as its first students.  By 1980, the CEGEP was well established on a permanent campus and had a student base of about 4000 daytime and 2000 evening students.  Since then, the College has grown by leaps and bounds, increasing attendance, adding and improving existing programs, and becoming one of the top rated English CEGEPs in Québec.

Situated on the most western tip of the island of Montreal, in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, John Abbott enjoys a rural setting just a half hour drive from downtown Montreal. As one of 48 CEGEPs (collège d’enseignement général et professionnel) in Québec, John Abbott offers two types of programs: two-year pre-university programs that lead to university, and three-year career or professional programs designed to lead directly to the labour market.

Who was John Abbott?

Sir John Abbott, Canada’s third Prime Minister, was born in 1821 in the quiet village of Saint Andrews East (now Saint-André-d’Argenteuil, an hour north of Montreal), and went on to become one of Canada’s most prominent figures.

The first Canadian-born Prime Minister, Sir John is also noted for a multitude of other accomplishments during his long and illustrious career in law, business and politics. He served as Solicitor General for Lower Canada (Québec), was the Liberal-Conservative member of the House of Commons, was appointed to the House of Parliament’s Senate and was Mayor of Montreal — twice.

Sir John was widely viewed as one of Canada’s most successful lawyers in his time, and for 23 years, he headed the Faculty of Law at McGill University, his alma mater, where Sir Wilfrid Laurier, future Prime Minister of Canada, was among his students.

Sir John was also key in founding several of Canada’s great institutions: the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal; the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; the Fraser Institute; the Canadian SPCA; and the Canadian Pacific Railway, the country’s first transcontinental rail system. Knighted in 1892 for his outstanding contribution to the development of Canadian society, the great statesman died on October 30 the following year at the home he built on the shores of Lake of Two Mountains in Senneville, Québec.

Despite a lifetime spent in public office, Sir John shied from the trappings of fame, preferring to focus instead on service. It is this commitment to social responsibility for its own virtue that inspires John Abbott College to honour the legacy of our namesake, staying true above all to leadership, excellence and service. With a focus on community, education and the ongoing development of society, we continue to uphold the principles of one of our nation’s greatest leaders, and are dedicated to building on Canada and Québec’s shared reputation as a beacon of cultural, intellectual and philanthropic advancement.