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Persoon/organisatie
Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada Education

Hellmuth College

  • Instelling
  • 1869-1976

Hellmuth College was originally granted by the Crown to the English Church Corporation. The Anglican Bishop Hellmuth directed the building of a young ladies’ college which opened September 23, 1869. The college went bankrupt, and the land where Hellmuth College was situated was put up for sale and subsequently purchased by the Sisters of St. Joseph of London on June 10, 1899. A year later, on April 29, 1900, the property was blessed and the name was changed to Mount St. Joseph. In 1900, approximately 108 school age children moved from Mount Hope to Hellmuth College, and the site also became an orphanage. On April 3, 1914, the Sisters moved to Sacred Heart Convent after its purchase from the Religious of the Sacred Heart. After the move, Mount St. Joseph became exclusively a home for orphans, and the remaining children at Mount Hope were moved to Mount St. Joseph in 1914. There were as many as 370 children cared in the orphanage at any time. Mount St. Joseph Orphanage had a fire on April 14, 1925, which was attributed to defective wiring, however only the roof was lost. The orphans were moved from Mount St. Joseph to Fontbonne Hall in 1953. In 1967, Fontbonne Hall came under the direction of Madame Vanier Services of London and the Sisters withdrew. In 1954, the Sisters built a new Motherhouse next to the old Mount St. Joseph building. The former orphanage building was renamed Fatima Hall, and became the home of the Mount St. Joseph Academy, a private girls’ school, from 1954 until 1959 until a new wing for the school was added to the new Motherhouse building. The building was also used for a Kindergarten and pre-Kindergarten which ran from 1954 until 1975. The building was also used from 1957-1967, the Fatima Hall High School and Aspirancy was founded for girls to introduce them to religious life. The former orphanage building was demolished on May 28, 1976.

St. Joseph's School of Music

  • Instelling
  • 1914-1982

The Sisters of St. Joseph have a long history of music instruction. The St. Joseph’s School of Music traces its beginnings back a century ago to 1914, when the Sisters of St. Joseph first took up residence at Sacred Heart Convent in London, Ontario, and began formal music instruction, due to the initiative taken by Sister Ursula McGuire and Sister Patricia Mallon. The school's earliest known music recital took place in 1919; however, it wasn't until the early 1920s that the school was established as the Sacred Heart School of Music. The music ministry has an even longer history, though, as individual Sisters were actually offering music lessons in small mission houses and schools throughout Ontario as early as 1867.

In the early days of the Sisters’ music ministry and the Sacred Heart School of Music, music studios were established in a number of schools within the London Separate School Board, and Sisters would visit the schools once or twice a week to teach. These schools included St. Michael, St. Martin, Holy Cross, Holy Rosary, Blessed Sacrament and St. Peter’s Catholic Schools. By 1929, the music ministry had 27 music teachers, and the Sisters offered music instruction in Windsor, Belle River, Leamington, Goderich, St. Mary’s, Ingersoll, Woodstock and St. Thomas in Ontario, as well as in Edmonton, Alberta. That year, Sister Callistus Arnsby was appointed Community Music Supervisor and Principal of the Sacred Heart School of Music. She was responsible for creating uniformity in policies and structure throughout the schools, and for helping the Sisters to grow professionally.

The Sacred Heart School of Music’s instructors studied and were trained themselves at the London Conservatory of Music (1892-1922), which later became the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music (1934-1997). Some of the Sisters also received special instruction in violin and piano teaching from a well-known musician of the time, Mr. St. John Hyttenruck.

The Sisters originally taught a program of studies based on the examination requirements of the Toronto Conservatory of Music (now the Royal Conservatory of Music). Students could take annual examinations, with examiners from the conservatory coming to the school for the exams. However, when the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music was established in London in 1934, the Sacred Heart School of Music began following its courses and requirements instead.

As the years went on, the Sacred Heart School of Music continued to grow. School policies were instituted, student recitals took place regularly, scholarships and awards were established, and bi-annual report cards were issued to students. There was even a music library. In the 1940s, the Sacred Heart Concert Orchestra was formed by Sister Immaculata Brophy. Originally a string ensemble, the orchestra eventually expanded to include wind, bass and percussion instruments. The Sacred Heart Concert Orchestra played frequently at important civic and religious events, and gave annual concerts in London and other nearby cities until the late 1940s when it disbanded.

When the new Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse opened in 1954, the music school was relocated there and its name was changed to the St. Joseph School of Music. The new St. Joseph School of Music contained larger, modern facilities, including St. Cecilia’s Recital Hall and adjoining music studios for teaching and practice. However, some of the school’s original studios were still retained, such as the studio at 429 Colborne St., a small house across the street from the Sacred Heart Convent, which continued to be used for teaching until 1973.

In addition to piano and violin instruction, the Sisters also offered vocal instruction. In fact, Sister Mary Margaret Childs organized several choirs over the years, including a senior girls’ choir called the School of Christ Choristers and a junior choir called the Little Radio Choir. In 1963, she formed a choir of her own senior vocal students called the St. Cecilia Singers who sang a repertoire of sacred songs, folk songs, popular songs, plain chant and carols. The St. Cecilia Singers made quite a name for themselves, touring throughout Canada and the United States and winning many awards at Rotary and Kiwanis Music Festivals. The choir is still in existence today as part of the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University. By 1972, the St. Joseph’s School of Music had an enrolment of approximately 400 students, and lessons were offered in piano, violin, singing and music theory. At this point the school had 30 teachers, seven of whom were Sisters.

In September 1982, the St. Joseph's School of Music was amalgamated with the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music on the University of Western Ontario campus. The St. Joseph's School of Music programs continued, its teachers were invited to join the conservatory staff, and its students were able to continue with their same teachers. By 1993, only three Sisters remained teaching at the conservatory. Shortly thereafter, the three Sisters began teaching independently again, offering independent instruction at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse. Today, in 2014, Sister Caroline Bering is the sole Sister still offering music instruction, with one student under her tuition.

Mount Saint Joseph Academy

  • Instelling
  • 1950-1985

The Mount Saint Joseph Academy was a school for girls directed by the Sisters of St. Joseph from 1950 to 1985. It was initially located at Sacred Heart Convent with a mere six students. In 1953, it moved to the newly built Mount St. Joseph convent property, opening in the former Hellmuth Ladies' College and Mount St. Joseph Orphanage building. At this time, there were 26 students but by 1957, this number had grown to 105 students. At this time, 80 girls resided at the school and 25 were day students. In 1958, the Academy was moved to a newly completed wing in the new Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse building.

The mission of the Academy was to provide secondary education for girls in which the Catholic faith was integrated into the curriculum and school life. Students had the option of being day students if they lived in the area or boarders if they came from far away. Students came from across Canada and 10%-15% came from other countries including the West Indies, Mexico, and Hong Kong.

Music was always an important part of life at the Academy, perhaps due to the influence of the St. Joseph’s School of Music which was also run by the Sisters. Students who wished to learn to play musical instruments did so on their own time, usually through the School of Music. They could also volunteer to join the Glee Club, one of the choirs, or the choral group called the Academy Singers which was well-known in the area.

In addition to regular curriculum classes, students were required to sign up for an activity for their enrichment and cultural development. These activities included photography, driving school, typing, fencing, drama, ballet, horseback riding, charm class, scripture study, physical education, crafts, and home economics club.

The Academy closed in 1985, and the wing that it occupied became a guest wing for transplant patients, also run by the Sisters. It is estimated that over the course of 32 years, between 2,000 and 3,000 students received at least part of their high school education at the Academy.