St. Ann’s Academy National Historic Site, Victoria

St. Ann’s Academy National Historic Site is a six acre property in Victoria bounded by Humboldt, Blanshard and Academy Close. The distinctive architecture of St. Ann’s Academy reflects the strong influence of French Canadian religious Congregation during a formative period in the history of British Columbia. It was the largest building in the province in 1871. Further additions were added in 1886 and 1910, further echoing Quebec convent and ecclesiastic design tradition. Built as the original Roman Catholic cathedral (St. Andrew’s) in Victoria in 1858 by Brother Joseph Michaud, the original timber framed building was moved to its current site and incorporated into the academy complex in 1886.
This historic place is valued for its strong association with the Quebec-based Sisters of St. Ann, who arrived in Victoria from Quebec in 1858, to establish education and health service for new settlers and Indigenous people. While many of their contributions are celebrated, in 2014 the Sisters acknowledged that their involvement in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools contributed to a form of cultural oppression that has had a lasting effect not only on those who attended the schools but also on subsequent generations.
As the provincial motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Ann, this property embodies the strong presence of French Canadian missionaries in British Columbia’s early history. Features such as the remaining orchards, the Novitiate Garden, artifact collection and the Chapel, provide compelling glimpses into of a way of life for the sisters.