Since its foundation in 1880, Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview has been under the care of the Society of Jesus.

While the founder of the school in the real sense was Father Joseph Dalton SJ, the school does have two other founders: Archbishop Roger Bede Vaughan, who invited the Jesuits to Sydney on condition that they found a boys’ boarding school, and Father JJ Therry, who, on his death in 1864, left the greater part of his property to the Society of Jesus. 

After Archbishop Vaughan asked the Jesuits to open a day school in Sydney (St Kilda House, later to become St Aloysius’ College) and a boarding college on the North Shore, Father Joseph Dalton purchased the Riverview Estate on behalf of the Society of Jesus on 28 June 1878. Eighteen months later Father Dalton was appointed foundation Rector of Saint Ignatius’ College.

An advertisement was placed in the Catholic newspaper, The Express, stating that boys aged between eight and 12 would be received at Riverview ‘as soon as possible after the Christmas holidays’. Classes commenced in the cottage in February 1880.

The cottage soon became very cramped as more boys arrived and in order to provide better accommodation, St Michael’s House was built. The building was designed by William Wardell and opened on the feast of Saint Michael, 29 September 1880. Further building took place at the College in 1882 with the construction of a wooden boatshed, and in 1883 the infirmary was built.

In its early years, the College offered ‘Classical and Modern Languages, History, Mathematics, the Natural Sciences and all other branches required for the Civil Service, the Junior, Senior and Matriculation Examinations.’ It was advertised that the curriculum included a modern side: mercantile subjects.

By December 1882, with an enrolment of only 70 students, the College extended the curriculum to include English Composition, Writing, Music, Singing, Drawing, Painting, Irish History and Oral Latin.

The main building of the College was constructed in three stages between 1885–1930 and the foundation stone was laid by Cardinal Moran Archbishop of Sydney on 15 December 1885. As originally designed by the architectural firm of Gilbert, Dennihey and Tappin, of Ballarat, the building was to be a huge square, representing four identical fronts, but only the South front was completed according to plan.

Although the first dayboys were not officially admitted until 1923, there was a small group of pupils who were permitted to attend the College as dayboys. In fact, up until the 1960s, dayboys remained relatively small in number and Riverview was mainly for boarders.

The Crest

Riverview was slow to express its meaning in symbols. The College began in 1880 without a motto, badge or uniform. It took 25 years before any of those began to appear. In 1906 Father Thomas Gartlan, Headmaster, decided that the school should have a badge and a motto.

The Loyola and Onaz Families

The badge is made up of two coats of arms, representing two sides of the family of St Ignatius. The Loyola family was a prosperous and powerful family who owned a property by the Urola River. Another family, named Onaz, owned a farm about a mile from Loyola. These two families intermarried, sometime during the 13th century, and when the Onaz branch died out the Loyolas inherited their name and property—thus uniting the coats of arms.

The Wolves and the Pot

The coat of arms of the Loyola family was two grey wolves with a kettle between them. The Spanish word for wolf is lobo and olla is pot; so a wolf and a pot is lobo-y-olla, which is contracted into Loyola. The coat of arms was taken to refer to the generosity of the Loyola family which, in feudal times kept bands of followers in case of war. It is said that the family was so generous to their followers that even the wolves had something to feast on after the soldiers had eaten.

The Seven Bars

Seven diagonal bands, on a field of gold represent the coat of arms of the Onaz family. It is said that the King of Spain granted these bars in recognition of the bravery of seven Onaz brothers who distinguished themselves in battle. This part of the badge therefore reminds us of the courage and bravery of the family of Ignatius. Many Jesuit Colleges have chosen the combined badge, but it is particularly relevant to Riverview, which is dedicated by name, and under the patronage of St Ignatius himself. It calls on all that wear it to show similar generosity and courage in all they do.

The School Motto: Quantum Potes, Tantum Aude

It is the motto underneath the badge that distinguishes one Jesuit College from another. Quantum potes, tantum aude is taken from the 13th century Eucharistic hymn, Lauda Sion Salvatorem, composed by Thomas Aquinas. The motto may be translated to ‘as much as you can do, so much dare to do’. It takes up themes central to Jesuit teaching and stresses the traditions of Riverview and the qualities expected of every student who passes through its doors.

The Uniform

Father John Meagher SJ introduced the uniform in 1937. Prior to that time boys had a ‘best suit’ and play clothes. In the 1890s the wearing of a straw boater with a plain black hatband was optional.

With the adoption of the College arms in 1906 the hatband was decorated with a metal badge. Later, an embroidered badge was worked into the hatband. During the 1920s ten-gallon hats replaced the straw boater, the hatband simply being transferred to them.

In 1932, as the move towards uniform clothing gathered pace, rules for the wearing of special blazers, sweaters and caps were formulated. It was finally announced that wearing the school uniform would be compulsory from the beginning of 1937 and it was declared that jackets had to be worn in class with collar and tie neatly arranged. The straw boater remained regulation headgear until the 1970s.

In 2003, the blue blazer was introduced for all students as the grey blazer was gradually discontinued. This was the first major change to the school uniform since its introduction in 1937.