Population: Approximately 770 students, 45 staff members
Building: 2 story bright open concept, large main foyer with student seating, chapel, varsity gymnasium with 2nd floor mezzanine spectator area, 2 story cafetorium, hot food cafeteria services, professional drama theater, construction room, food and family studies facilities, 5 dedicated computer labs, other specialty rooms, asphalt track, various sports fields and facilities shared with the City of Guelph, many walking trails and preserved forested areas.
Originally, the school was located in downtown Guelph at the intersection of Cork and Norfolk Street, next to the Church of our Lady Immaculate.
The school's roots go back to when the Loretto Sisters, also known as the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, arrived from Toronto and opened a school for girls in 1856 (housed in the convent, the last remaining structure that is standing as part of the original school). The enrollment quickly increased, that in 1872 an addition was constructed. In 1883, it was decided that the younger grades would be moved to two other sites on the original property (St. Agnes school for girls - which is still standing and St. Stanislaus School for boys - which was rebuilt in 1977) and the convent school would continue to house the high school students. By 1926, enrolment was continuing to increase and the new Loretto Academy was built immediately next door the convent school, and the all-girls school continued to be operated by the Loretto sisters.
In 1953 the co-educational Notre Dame High School was erected, and at this time, laywomen and men joined the Sisters as part of the teaching staff. This building provided facilities for grades 9 and 10 and was infamous for its gymnasium and its "caged gallery". On the other hand, Loretto Academy also became co-educational and housed students in grades 11, 12, and 13. In 1962, Loretto Academy and Notre Dame were renamed Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School, after Bishop Alexander Macdonell (1762–1840), a well-respected Catholic leader in his own time, and a few years later in 1966-1967, the two schools were officially joined by an addition.
In 1992, a report highlighting the needs of the Catholic community through a Board-School-Church committee, recommended the closure of the original high school and a recommendation of a school of the same name to be built in the future. Despite a long and hard-fought battle with support from many members of the community, the school was closed in June, 1995 and the three buildings, with the exception of the original 1856 convent building, were demolished in 2004.
In September 2004, the recommendation of the committee finally came forth as the existing school on Clair Road West opened starting with grades 9 through 11. Grade 12 has since been added, thereby enabling full granting status of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, continuing the tradition of the Loretto Sisters and Celtic Pride in Guelph. A section of blackboard from the original school now sits in the chapel of the current, as a memorial to all those who helped seed Catholic Education firmly in lives of so many fortunate young people.
The school is quickly approaching it's tenth year celebration in the new building, and it's clear to see the rich tradition and legacy in learning has been carried over. All we know, is that Bishop Mac is a safe, inclusive and great place to learn and grow. With the expansion in the south end of Guelph, the future only looks brighter for the tradition to continue...