The Commercial Class was started in 1892 by Sister Mary Matthew, who had been a legal secretary and court reporter before entering the Novitiate. There were limited options for employment for women, and aside from teaching and nursing, business skills were a popular choice.
The students learned shorthand, typing, bookkeeping, office communication and other useful skills. The reputation for the programme grew, and during the 1930s, a number of the graduates were hired to work in the Provincial Legislature. A Diploma was presented at the end of the programme, as an indication of the abilities of these young women.
Students that registered for the programme were often older than the other students and the uniform of the Academy was not required. Some pupils chose to combine the commercial studies with their high school classes. There were prizes offered for proficiency in typing and stenography, often presented by typewriter manufacturers and business supply companies. Typing is the activity that most of the St. Annís alumnae remember, as the sound of the heavy manual keys clacking and tapping travelled through the hallways.
Tokens and paper money bearing St. Annís name were used as teaching aides in the late 19th century, “as many of the youngsters of the period had no experience with money.” (letter from R.A. Greene, Victoria B.C., September 30, 1997) These fake coins would be passed through the banking wicket, to allow the young women in the course to practice handling currency. Examples of coins, valued at 5 and 25, were discovered in a private collection.
This page, taken from the 1924 school prospectus or calendar, gives a clear indication of the goals of the Commercial Class:
Commercial Department This department offers every advantage to young ladies desirous of attaining a complete and practical business education. It will readily be understood that the better prepared a student is for this course by a proper educational foundation, the more rapid and reliable will be the progress.
Admission to the Courses Applicants must have completed two yearsí work in a recognized High School. With this preparation, supplementary work in Spelling, English, Penmanship and Punctuation must be continued through the term.
Lectures by local attorneys and business men are given throughout the term.
Diplomas Students who pass the required examination for either course will be granted the diploma issued by the school. All credentials awarded by the Typewriter Companies are competed for and received regularly by our students.
Alumnae Association Commercial High School students are admitted to the reunions of former pupils, and a special Silver Cup. “The Alumnae Speed Trophy”, is awarded annually in open competition for all Typewriting students of each term.
Shorthand Typewriting Isaac Pitman Commercial Law Elementary Banking Touch Method Business Letter Writing, Bills Statements, Telegrams, etc. Office Routine Stencilling Mimeograph Practice Mechanism of Standard Typewriters
In Both Courses
Spelling, Muscular Writing, Business English, Filing Systems studied and practised. Burroughs and Dalton Adding Machines. Ethics and Politeness.