History/National School of Horology - Canada

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National School of Horology - Canada

The National School of Horology, in Trois-Rivières, Québèc, is the last remaining institution in Canada for the training and formation of watch and clockmakers. In the later part of the last century, there existed four such schools in Canada, one each in Toronto, Montréal, Trois-Rivières, and Québèc City. When the school board of Québèc voted to close two of its three schools, the decision was made to amalgamate all three into the National School of Horology in Trois-Rivières, because of the town's prime location between contesting metropolises Québèc and Montréal.



The National School of Horology was founded on March 4, 1946, by Jacques Giroux; who also served as the school's first professor. The first pupils were exclusively veterans of the Second World War. The work was ideal for veterans who were bound to wheelchairs or had in some way lost the use of their lower extremities, as the work could be performed entirely while sitting. The candidate needed only to have good eyesight and adept manual dexterity. It was special funding from the government, to help these veterans re-integrate themselves into useful roles in society, that greatly helped the school to establish itself in its primary years.

The school first occupied a room in a building on Hart Street. Four years later, it moved to a new location within the town's technical trades school. At that time, the pupils were provided with the basic necessary tools for them to perform their work with once they had graduated from the program. The basic program envisaged one year of training, with the possibility of taking one additional year of specialization.

In September of 1973, the department of horology at the technical school was taken under the administration of the Holy-Ursule Catholic Secondary School on Carmel Boulevard, in Trois-Rivières, which is today known as the Center of Professional Training (CFP) Bel Avenir. The National School of Horology, in Canada, has remained under the administration of CFP Bel Avenir into the second millennium.

One of the classrooms at Canada's École Nationale d'Horlogerie
In 1996, the department was moved again, to occupy a larger space at its current location on the third floor of a primary school building on St. Paul Street, several blocks east of Hart Street. At the time of the move, a new basic training program, under the title Diploma of Professional Studies (DEP) in Horology, was developed. The new training program consisted of 28 modules, addressing all major facets of modern horology over the course of 1800 hours. A second diploma program of 600 hours, known as an Attestation of Professional Studies (ASP) in Horology, which focused on horological complications, was later developed and instituted as an option for successful graduates of the DEP program.


The number of staff at the school fluctuates depending on the number of students enrolled at the school. On average, there are 2-3 professors working at the school.

Robert Plourde, one of the school's professors, at WOSTEP in 1994

Listing of Modules Included in the DEP Program

  1. The Occupation and Training Process
  2. The History of Time Measurement
  3. Health and Safety at Work
  4. Metrology and Materials Concepts
  5. Measurement Mechanisms in Watchmaking
  6. Information Retrieval and Sketch Making
  7. Hand Machining Operations
  8. Machine-Tool Operations
  9. Applied Mathematics and Physics
  10. Repairing Motor Organs and Train Wheels
  11. Soldering Techniques
  12. Heat and Chemical Treatments
  13. Repairing Pin Lever Escapements
  14. Repairing Swiss Lever Escapements
  15. Repairing Balance Springs
  16. Repairing Regulating Organs
  17. Management Operations
  18. Repairing Simple Mechanical Watches
  19. Repairing Non-Striking Clocks
  20. Repairing Automatic Watches
  21. Electricity and Electronic Principles
  22. Repairing Electronic Watches
  23. Repairing Jewelry
  24. Replacing Mechanisms
  25. Reconditioning Simple Modern Timekeeping Instruments
  26. Job Search Techniques
  27. Job Placement


  • An essay by Michel Plourde, former Head Professor of the National School of Horology

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