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Hooper Wing: The 1910 Addition


The Museum was set up by Sister Mary Theodore when the new addition opened. As curator, she set up displays of curious items. The museum is described as a large room with three windows facing Humboldt Street, so it was near the classroom spaces. Sister Mary Theodore catalogued and displayed everything that would be of interest, presenting stuffed birds, 1500 sea shells of 300 different varieties, fossils, minerals, travel souvenirs and even an autograph book, filled with birthday greetings and poetry presented to Miss Louisa Helmcken by her loving schoolmates ... St. Ann's Convent, Victoria B.C., June 24th 1879.

Museum, c. 1950 Museum, c. 1950
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Many artifacts in the museum were of historical significance for British Columbia. Bishop Demers acquired the first printing press in the area, for his publication "Le Courier de la Nouvelle Caledonie", in 1856. In 1858, Amor de Cosmos used the press to print the first "Colonist", the Victoria newspaper which would eventually merge with the Times to form the current daily in the city. The press served the "Cariboo Sentinel" and the Kamloops "Inland Sentinel", before arriving at St. Ann's in 1910.

Books, photograph albums, a missionary Mass kit, a scale model of the pioneer school house, the organ brought to Victoria by Bishop Demers when he first arrived in the 1840s, an axe and cedar beater, the rifle that killed Archbishop Seghers in 1866, a spinning wheel, dolls, pennants, flags and small, stuffed mammals are some of the other items that could be found in the museum. Some of the most valuable items, in terms of appraised cost, included the South Pacific collection of Mr. and Mrs. Bell, which came to St. Ann's through their daughter, a Sister with the convent. Clothing, footwear and weapons were among the items left to the school. They were placed with the other objects of material culture from European settlers, and the First Nations peoples of Alaska, Labrador and the West Coast.

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There was a little store next to the Museum. Ruth Hall (McIntyre), a student during the 1940s, and later a teacher at the Academy, remembers purchasing trinkets and cards with religious scenes. The girls were not supposed to carry anything into the chapel, but they would place these holy cards and medals in their prayer books, to show and to trade with each other.

Most of the items from the museum were dispersed when the school closed in 1973. Many classes were brought into the museum, either to gaze at the interesting displays, or to focus on certain objects, for study in a class. The educational value of these items continued when a teacher began a Montessori school for young children in Victoria, and was given many of the sea shells and the harp from the museum collection. The Ethnological collection went to the Royal British Columbia Museum in 1978. Other pieces were lost, sold off, sent to the St. Ann's Archives or may still be waiting to be found among a former student's keepsakes!