Brandon’s St. Michael’s Academy
It was a Brandon priest’s simple request tor parish school teachers, in 1899, that led to the founding of St. Michael’s.
It became a highly respected academy that strengthened the academic and cultural life of students in Westman for generations.
The priest had appealed to Sisters of Our Lady of Missions, an Order of well-educated women based in England.
The Order sent four sisters to Brandon in August 1899.
By September they had opened a boarding and day school in St. Joseph’s convent, a large frame building at the corner of Lorne Avenue and Third Street.
Enrolment was higher than expected with 65 pupils, aged six to eighteen years of age.
In 1904, the Order decided to construct a building to house the sisters and the nondenominational boarding and day school.
St. Michael’s Academy opened in 1910 at First Street and Victoria Avenue.
The Order required its members to be self-sufficient, generating enough income to provide for themselves and their mission.
Fees from boarding students supplied most of the funds needed to operate St. Michael’s.
The sisters also earned income from giving private art and music lessons, and teaching at the parish school.
Community members helped as well by regularly holding a variety of fundraising events.
By 1937, St. Michael’s was known throughout Manitoba for its high educational standards due to the Sisters’ dedication to teaching.
Music and speech arts were considered as important as the academic and technical courses to the students’ education.
Students’ music and speech performances were adjudicated by examiners from the renowned Trinity College London.
The Academy was thriving, and classroom space was filled to capacity.
A few years later, due to limited space, only kindergarten and grades seven to twelve were taught at the Academy.
An addition to the main building, in 1955 gave the Academy much needed teaching space.
But, in the 1960’s more high schools were being built in the region.
Students no longer boarded at the Academy as they could attend nearby schools.
The boarding school closed in 1967.
The following year the Academy joined Brandon School Division as a co-ed junior high school.
Kindergarten and music lessons were still offered.
Then the junior high school closed in 1971, ending seventy-two years of teaching by Sisters of Our Lady of Missions.
The music department continued to offer private music and vocal lessons.
Part of the building was converted to an infirmary for elderly and ailing sisters.
The infirmary closed in 1992. Five years later, when none of their options for the Academy building’s use proved feasible, the sisters made the painful decision to demolish the original building.
The music department moved to the addition, and rooms were rented to community groups.
Over the next several years it became increasingly apparent to the sisters that they could no longer afford to maintain that building. The property would have to be sold.
It was difficult for the Sisters of Our Lady of Missions to sell the property they had owned for a century.
But, they were pleased with the purchaser’s plans. In 2007, Victoria Landing Retirement Residence opened on the site.
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Hang your frames securely
It is important to hang frames securely, using appropriate supplies and techniques.
Here is a tip courtesy of Larson-Juhl:
In a kid’s room where things are thrown around, use security hangers.
If you don’t have access to them, try strap hangers on each side of the frame and heavy duty hooks in the wall for the hanger to sit into.
Do not rely on just nails in the wall as they can fall out of the wall, or, the frame can jump off the nail if something is thrown at it.