Christopher Windley Lonsdale was born on Feb. 1, 1886 at the Vicarage at Thornthwaite in the Lake District of England. C.W.'s father was a Canon in the Church of England and he enrolled his three sons at Westminster School in London, England.
While his two brothers followed their father into the church as ministers and engaged in missionary work abroad, C.W. struck out on his own path. He explored Canada and worked diverse jobs, from driving a taxi in Toronto to running a farm on Vancouver Island, and ultimately managing the Strathcona Hotel in Shawnigan Lake.
By 1912, Lonsdale turned to teaching and, at the behest of the many British expatriates living on the Island, began dreams of building a school in the tradition of his alma mater. After being rejected from the armed forces during the First World War due to a heart condition, Lonsdale purchased the original Shawnigan property from the Misses Ravenhill. The first register of Shawnigan Lake School is dated April 27, 1916.
From 1916 to 1952, through clarity of vision and strength of will, Mr. Lonsdale built Shawnigan into one of Canada's leading boarding schools. Soon after his retirement, the Founder died in Parksville, B.C.