January 30, 1876.
On January 30, 1876 the Irish Christian Brothers opened their first school in Newfoundland known locally as the Orphan Asylum School. The school had previously been under the jurisdiction of the Benevolent Irish Society. (BIS).
The arrival of the three Christian Brothers implied far more than the arrival of a few more teachers. It meant the introduction of a group of teachers who taught as a unit, were all trained in the same teaching methods, used the same graded text books and employed the same code of discipline.
Attendance shot up from 66 at the former Orphan Asylum School in November to 300, the full limit of the space available.
The Orphan Asylum was built on Queen’s Road on the side of the hill overlooking St. John’s, across the street from the Basilica. The building featured a prominent tower observatory that was one of the most prominent architectural features of the city in its day.
After a year of teaching at the school, the BIS and Christian Brothers decided that the fifty-year-old wooden structure was no longer suitable and plans were made for a new stone building on the same lot. The Orphan Asylum School was sold for thirty-five pounds and was torn down.
Recommended Archival Collection: Archives of the Congregation of the Christian Brothers, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Recommended Web Site: The History of Catholic Education in Newfoundland. http://fromslatetochalk.ca/
Recommended Reading: Nobel to the View, The Saga of St. Bonaventure’s College by Brother J.B. Darcy, Creative Publishers, St. John’s. 2007