You are here : Home » History And Research » Places » Courtyard

Playground Courtyard

The playground for the primary school was set up after the 1886 additions to the Academy. The first, small cemetery for the Sisters was established on this plot in 1864 and was relocated in 1885. This area had once been the yard outside the pioneer school house, where St. Ann's Academy began.

H.B.C. Cabin

The log cabin convent school, 1858 The log cabin convent school, 1858
(click for larger image)

The first four sisters and an accompanying laywoman arrived in 1858 at the request of Bishop Modeste Demers to a wood frame building, the log cabin which would serve as their home and school in the early years. The building was an 18 by 30 foot structure, built in 1845 by Jacques Laquechier, for the Hudson's Bay Company. The construction technology was typical of French Canadian architecture, with thick, squared timbers and heavy uprights, grooved to support the logs. It had previously been a family home with a central fireplace and loft. Bishop Demers purchased the structure from Leon Morrell for $500, whose daughter Emily became the first orphan to be cared for by the Sisters.

The cedar building was divided into two rooms by a double chimney and a partition. The sisters cooked on one side of the building and taught on the other, pulling out mattresses, which were stored in a corner during the day, to sleep on at night. Light came in through windows in the front and back doors, and dormer windows above. In September, 1860, a new convent was opened on View Street, allowing even more children in the expanding City of Victoria area to attend classes. More Sisters were sent West from the Mother House in Lachine to teach and supervise the boarders, and the little log cabin was left behind.

Many students remember the old school house, standing just off to the side of the building as it appears today. It became part of the history of the Academy and teachers brought classes through the building to help them imagine what life would have been like for those first few Sisters of Saint Ann in Victoria. This first school of the Sisters of St. Ann in Victoria, small and dark, was shiplapped, or covered in horizontal wooden siding, and moved behind the Royal British Columbia Museum to face Helmcken House in 1974, after the closure of the Academy.