ST ANN'S ACADEMY NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

(St Ann’s Academy and Auditorium)

835 Humboldt Street, Victoria, BC

(250) 953-8829

Status: Former Chapel, Abbey and Girl’s Boarding School

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at night


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St. Ann's Academy1.JPG


By Iota 9 at English WikipediaCC BY-SA 3.0Link


History

The first building on this site was the St Ann’s Chapel in 1886 – originally the St Andrew’s Cathedral but it was moved from another location – it was Victoria’s first Roman Catholic Church. The Academy itself was founded in 1880 by the Sisters of Saint Anne from Lachine, Quebec as the St Louis School but it was located in another area of the city.

The Sisters added the convent in 1887 and the school was moved here in 1910 as a girl’s boarding and day school from grades 3-12, a boy’s school from K to grade 3 as well as residential school for Aboriginal girls and orphans and a novitiate - where girls went to school to become nuns.

In 1973 the Sisters deconsecrated the site and sold the buildings and property to the Provincial Government. The Government used it for offices briefly but had to vacate due to a large number of repairs that needed to be done just to make the building safe.

As with most heritage and historically significant structures there was endless debate and no one wanted to spend any money to save the site. Luckily this site’s ownership was transferred to the Provincial Capital Commission a Government corporation that saves heritage properties in the Provincial Capital.

The entire interior of the building was gutted and rebuilt – bringing it up to the new earthquake safe laws – and brought back to what it looked like in the 1920’s. The BC Ministry of Advanced Education took over a lot of the building while the chapel can now be rented for weddings. The rest of the building is open as an interpretive centre and can be rented for private events.

The grounds of the site have now been annexed into neighbouring Beacon Hill Park.

 

Paranormal Activity

The ghost of Emily Carr - one of the most famous Canadian painters - is often reported both in the building and on the grounds. She grew up in a house nearby and went to school at the Academy as a girl. This is one of three places where Emily’s ghost is seen in Victoria; she is the city’s most famous ghost.

Emily is also seen in the chapel tower; curiously with a monkey.

Emily Carr also haunts her childhood home and the James Bay Inn (see above).

Apparitions of nuns are seen wandering the grounds; they are, perhaps, searching for their former gravesites which have been moved from the grounds to the Saint Ann private plot in Ross Bay Cemetery. The nuns are described as always looking concerned.

The ghosts of the nuns are most frequently seen in the early morning hours just before the sunlight peeks over the horizon.

Near the building people report a powerful sense of unease. Legend says this is due to the architect, Thomas Hooper, who murdered people and disposed their bodies in the foundation of building. This is said to have given the building souls.

Shadow figures are also reported in the building; they usually are seen lingering in doorways taking full advantage of the natural shadows.

Phantom singing is reported in the building at night. This thought to be a student’s choir although its unknown why it only happens at night.

Other Reported Activity: apparitions of former students and nuns; objects moving on their own; electrical disturbances; disembodied voices; unexplained noises and mists; phantom footsteps; light anomalies and feelings of not being alone and being watched.