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People and organizations
Hamilton

Mount St. Joseph Centre

  • Corporate body
  • 1960-1980

In 1960, Mount St. Joseph Centre opened to treat emotionally disturbed boys. It was located at 354 King Street West, Hamilton, which was the former site of Mount St. Joseph Orphanage, which had been closed by the Sisters of St. Joseph due to the declining number of orphans in residence. A shift in views occurred in the 1950s, and the Welfare Protection Agency began placing more children into foster homes rather than keeping them in large orphanages.

Mount St. Joseph Centre was a private, charitable, and non-denominational organization, operated by a board of directors. The Sisters of St. Joseph sat on the board, along with professionals and laypersons. Sister Eugenia Callaghan was the Administrative Director of the Centre. Other Sisters worked there as teachers and child care workers. All of the Sisters who worked at the centre had living quarters on the third floor.

Due to its success,more space was eventually needed, and in 1975, boys aged 6 to 12 remained at 354 King Street West, while boys aged 13 to 17 moved to 66 Canada Street, otherwise known as “Canada House”.

Mount St. Joseph Centre’s board of directors defined “emotionally disturbed youth” as children who had difficulty adjusting to everyday life, and thus needed special attention. The boys were described as being in conflict with their families, communities, and themselves.

A child entered the centre after first trying community-based, out-patient counselling services. If this treatment did not prove helpful, then a team of representatives from the Children’s Aid Society, Board of Education, Probation and Court Services, treatment centres, counselling services, and the Regional Children’s Centre met to discuss the child’s case. If it was determined that the child’s needs could be better met by residential treatment, they were sent to Mount St. Joseph Centre. It is important to note that children were never taken away from their parents.Instead, the centre offered a place for boys to live and receive treatment. If the child did not have a family, then the Centre worked with the Children’s Aid Society to find an appropriate family for them.

The therapy was based on everyday positive relationships with staff members. If a boy acted out, he was provided with explanations and clarifications about his behaviour, and encouraged to try new responses. This type of therapy was used to instill self-esteem into the child, as well as re-adjust his thinking about how to better respond to social interactions. The children were encouraged to join community activities, like sport clubs.

In 1967, the Department of Health promulgated the White Paper, which outlined the necessity for residential treatment centres. As a result, Mount St. Joseph Centre was accredited as a Schedule IV institution under the Revised Mental Health Act of August, 1968. This Act provided financial support for children in residential treatment centres, but not for additional educational services. In 1971, it was decided that the Public School Board would assume the responsibility for the educational programme at the centre.

On September 5, 1980, Mount St. Joseph Centre moved from 354 King Streetto 69 Flatt Street, Burlington. They subsequently changed their name to Woodview Children’s Centre. The Sisters were not involved with the Centre once it moved.

With a now vacant building at 354 King Street, the Sisters put together a committee to determine what to do with the property. There were discussions about creating a seniors’ day centre and also a pastoral care centre for aging priests. The seniors’ day centre was to be in partnership with Providence House, a facility for the care of the aged, which was an institution which had been founded by the Sisters. It does not appear that these projects came to fruition.

In 1982, the Cool School leased two floors of the former Mount St. Joseph Centre. The school offered alternative education to assist troubled youth and those with learning disabilities. Other tenants included a pastoral counselling centre, St. Joseph Hospital Foundation and a bereavement group sponsored by the Sisters.

Newsletters

  • Corporate body
  • 1960-2006

This series consists of newsletters produced by the Sisters of St. Joseph in the Hamilton diocese. These newsletters cover various topics and events, such as healthcare and pilgrimages, discussions about daily life including feast days and projects, messages from Sisters, as well as news about the surrounding geographical locale. A list of deceased Sisters and family members, information about ministries, memorial biographical sketches, and Chapter information are also topics included in the newsletters. These newsletters are important sources for gaining a better understanding of the Sisters’ daily lives and learning more about their charitable works and efforts. Sisters were very actively engaged in charitable work, with several projects occurring, such as hospital work, orphan care, and missions aiding Canadian Indigenous communities, as well as helping the poor in developing countries. Locations of Sisters’ missions and ministries include, but are not limited to, Fort St. James, Cape Croker, Kenilworth, Guelph, Jamaica, Kitchener, Hamilton, Guatemala, and Fort St. John.

St. Mary's Orphanage

  • Corporate body
  • 1852-1960

In 1854, there was a cholera and typhus outbreak within the city of Hamilton. At the same time, many immigrants were crossing the Atlantic Ocean looking for a better life in the New World. Often ships were overcrowded, which led to the spreading of disease. Newcomers often did not have large support networks, like family and neighbours, upon their arrival. This made life even more difficult if the family was dealing with illness or the death of a loved one. Factors like these resulted in Hamilton having a large orphan population. The Sisters of St. Joseph established St. Mary’s Orphanage in 1852 in response to the rising concern for orphaned children within the city.

Initially, the Sisters cared for two orphaned girls in their first convent on MacNab and Cannon Streets. In 1857, an orphan girls’ quarters was located in the Sisters’ second convent at 204 Park Street. The girls lived in the Carmel Wing located under the novitiate. Additions to the property were made on various occasions to meet the needs of the increasing number of children. Both boys and girls resided on the property, although they were housed separately. In 1879, the boys were then moved to a wing in the House of Providence, which was a facility to care for the aged, opened at the request of Reverend John McNulty. In 1900, the House of Providence burned down which meant that the boys had to move again, this time going into individual homes for care until a new building was opened on the convent property in 1909. In 1910, Mount Carmel Infants’ Home was built on Hamilton Mountain. Young, “delicate” children were cared for in this facility until 1926. In 1933, the girls of St. Mary’s Orphanage were moved from the Park Street convent to the newly built Mount St. Joseph Orphanage at 354 King Street West, a property formerly owned by Reverend J.T. McNally. This became known as the Mount St. Joseph Girls’ Division of St. Mary’s Orphanage. The boys later joined the girls at Mount St. Joseph in 1951. This was the first time that the orphanage was co-ed. Mount St. Joseph was administered by St. Mary’s Orphanage.

In 1960, Mount St. Joseph Orphanage became Mount St. Joseph Centre, a school for emotionally disturbed boys. This Centre remained open until 1978.

The Sisters worked tirelessly to provide for the orphaned children. They also fostered children, whose parents paid for their room and board. One of the main ways that the Sisters funded the orphanage was through the annual Orphans’ Festival. This Festival not only helped raise funds for the orphans, but also instilled them with musical and theatrical talents. The festivals were heavily attended by the local community. The Sisters also went to surrounding rural communities to ask for donations and food for the orphanage.