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Programs & Tours

Programs/Tours are offered BC students. Advance booking is required.

"A Place in History" K-5 is a 90 minute school program featuring activities such as faux finish painting and mapping exercises designed to give students a hands-on exploration of the restored interiors and grounds of St. Ann's Academy.

School Tour groups are also welcome; we can customize both the length and subject focus according to your needs. Possible topics include General History, Architecture, Art, Religious Studies, Gardens and grounds. Tours are also available in French.

Students and teachers in St. Ann's parlour

A Place in History

Where do you go to learn about:

  • A building older than the Legislature.
  • Victoria's first Roman Catholic cathedral and girl's school.
  • A site that was originally waterfront property.

St. Ann's Academy and the Story of Victoria

History of site: A former Catholic girls' school, renovated and restored between 1995 and 1997 by the province of British Columbia, St. Ann's Academy was opened to the public as a national heritage site in 1997. Heritage buildings and historic sites offer a direct physical link with the past of a community. The early history of Victoria is reflected in the growth and expansion of the buildings and grounds of St. Ann's Academy.

Description of Program Recommended for: Grades 2-3, adaptable for Grades K - 5.

Learning Outcomes: In accordance with the Ministry of Education Social Studies Learning Outcomes (Sept 99), the program includes activities which build and develop skills such as:

  • collecting, recording and organizing information gathered from archival photographs, maps and hands-on site exploration describing the changing face of Victoria from First Nation community to Trade Fort and Gold Rush Town
  • creating and interpreting simple maps using cardinal direction symbols and simple keys.

In this program, students will re-visit the past by exploring the restored 1858 chapel and Interpretive Centre, and the historic grounds. Activities range from mapping the grounds, to learning about the original construction and renovation of the Academy building. The students will learn about the route and the distance traveled by the original four Sisters of St. Ann, who came from Quebec to Victoria in 1858. The building's years as a school will be discussed and the facilitator will also talk about how the site changed through the years, why it was important to save this historic site and how this ocurred. The children will also have an opportunity to examine archival photographs to see how Victoria in 1858 differed from present-day and will explore how the growth of Victoia was influenced by the Fur-trade and first Nations.

After a brief orientation in our historic chapel, students will be divided into two groups and proceed to various activity stations. A St. Ann's facilitator will be present at each station to guide the activity, and to answer any questions. Each station will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. Please allow one and a half hours for your visit. Please feel free to allow extra time for exploring and enjoying our park-like setting as a group before returning to school. Modern washrooms are inside, and areas for eating lunch are available on request.

Students, teacher and St. Ann staff doing Faux Painting project

Activity #1
After learning about the restoration of the building and examining the woodwork in the chapel and in the foyer of the Interpretive Centre, students will participate in a wood graining art activity designed to teach about both the original building techniques and recent restorations.

Activity #2
To illustrate the multicultural nature of fur trade society the students will learn about and try out some phrases in the Chinook language (a trading language used in early Victoria when the sister's arrived). The students will also have an opportunity to look at some archival photographs from Victoria's early history and will talk about the differences from present day.

Activity #3
This activity will concentrate on the grounds and setting of St. Ann's Academy and will again encourage the students to discuss how the land looked when originally settled compared to present-day. Working in groups, students will also participate in an outdoor mapping exercise and hands-on exploration of the site, including its wonderful heritage trees and gardens.

Students and teacher doing mapping exercise on Academy Green

Materials supplied: A pre-visit booklet with suggestions for pre-visit activities, photos and information will be sent to the teacher at the time of booking.

Availability: September through June

Fees: No charge

Duration: 1 1/2 hours

What to wear: One of our activities takes place outdoors and another involves use of poster paint, so please have your students dress accordingly! We have a cloakroom for coats and packs.

Adult Supervisors: We recommend one Adult supervisor per 5 students.

Parking is limited: A small pay parking lot is located near the side entrance off Blanshard Street ($2 for 2 hours). Buses should park on the street. Two hour street parking on the perimeter of the grounds is also available.

We look forward to your program. Please call us at 250-953-8829. Fax 250-953-8823, or email: if you have any questions.