Marie-Helene Bourret leads the tours at St. Ann's Academy every Sunday at 1 p.m. in French and 2:30 p.m. in English.

Marie-Helene Bourret leads the tours at St. Ann's Academy every Sunday at 1 p.m. in French and 2:30 p.m. in English.

St. Ann’s Academy showcases Victoria’s French connection

Tours are given every Sunday during the summer, at 1 p.m. in French and 2:30 p.m. in English.

Though the majority of St. Ann’s Academy now houses the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, the building’s old Quebec-style masonry, Mansard roof and stained glass windows stand as a testament to its rich history.

Rev. Modeste Demers, bishop of Vancouver Island, brought the first group of sisters to Victoria from Quebec in 1858, in order to tend to the sick and educate both European and First Nations children.

As the mission pre-dated confederation, Demers chose the four most physically capable sisters to head west with him.

St. Ann’s cathedral was erected that same year, followed by the school in 1871, the sisters’ residence in 1886, and the auditorium and boarding house in 1910.

St. Ann’s was operated by the Roman Catholic Sisterhood until 1973, when declining enrolment led the sisters to sell the buildings and grounds to the provincial government for $1.

In 1985, the building was closed for 10 years, until being designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1989 and spending half a decade undergoing renovations. More than$16.5 million was poured into restoring the site by municipal, provincial and federal governments, the highest renovation cost of any heritage site in B.C.

Nowadays, the academy serves as a monument to the Victoria’s French connection and pre-confederate history. By-donation tours are given every Sunday during the summer, at 1 p.m. in French and 2:30 p.m. in English.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Victoria filed a petition with the Supreme Court of B.C. March 2 to have it clarify whether, under the Trustee Act, Beacon Hill Park can be used for temporary sheltering. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria asks court to clarify if Beacon Hill Park can be used for sheltering

City of Victoria filed petition to Supreme Court of B.C. March 2

The application proposing to rezone Western Speedway was passed by Langford’s planning, zoning and affordable housing committee Feb 8. A petition has since been started by residents of Trudie Terrace, hoping to stop the proposed residential portion of the development plan. (CBRE Victoria)
Petition opposing Western Speedway development proposal gains steam

Save Thetis Heights Neighborhood petition aims to stop extension of Trudie Terrace

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

Boma Brown won the Emerging Leader Award for her work founding the Support Network for Indigenous Women and Women of Colour. (Courtesy of Boma Brown)
Victoria SNIWWOC founder up for national women’s award for volunteer efforts

Victoria’s Boma Brown is a semi-finalist in the running for the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

Most Read