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St. Anthony's Seraphic College

Edmonton

Other Names:
Franciscan Friary (St. Anthony's College)

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
St. Anthony's Seraphic College is an institutional complex situated on two generously sized lots in Edmonton's Baldwin neighbourhood. The complex consists of an original three-storey building with a flat roof erected in 1925 and subsequent additions in 1931, 1934, and 1946. The original building features Gothic-arched windows on the ground floor and a metal cornice around the roofline. The 1931 addition is distinguished by its projecting entryway surmounted by a stepped parapet featuring a niche containing a statue of St. Anthony. The 1934 construction includes the addition of two storeys to the single-storey, east end of the 1931 addition and a new entrance bay attached to the original 1925 building. The 1946 gymnasium is a two-storey structure with a broad gable roof attached to the west of the complex.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of St. Anthony's Seraphic College lies in its association with the establishment of the Franciscan order in western Canada and the development of Catholic higher education in Alberta.

The arrival into Edmonton of the Canadian Northern Railway in 1905 and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway in 1908 stimulated the expansion of industrial development and population growth in the city's northeast. Many of the new arrivals to the area were working class immigrants from eastern European backgrounds. Recognizing the need for spiritual guidance for this community and others northeast of Edmonton, the francophone bishop of St. Albert, Emile Legal, solicited help from the Franciscan order in Montreal. In 1908, the first Franciscans arrived in Alberta and began their missionary work to Edmonton and its northeast environs from their base in the settlement of Lamoureux, near Fort Saskatchewan. The following year, the Franciscans relocated their mission to northeast Edmonton, where the need for clergy was more urgent.

The initially humble foundations of the mission - a rudimentary friary - grew over the years into an institutional complex that included the St. Francis of Assisi Church (1911) and St. Anthony's Seraphic College (1925), among other buildings. The college was the major Franciscan training college in western Canada, established to prepare young men for the priesthood. The site was a heartland for Catholic spiritual life in the district, including at one point a church, college, friary, nearby parish hall, and gymnasium. The St. Anthony's complex was also the seat of the Major Superior of the Ecclesiastical Province of Christ the King in Western Canada. The college continued to function until 1970, when it was converted into a private boarding school.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2182)


Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of St. Anthony's Seraphic College include such features as:

1925 original building:
- mass, form, and scale;
- flat roof with roofline cornice and parapet;
- red-brick exterior and other brick elements, including stringcourses, Gothic arches around ground floor windows, and single vertical course of bricks above basement, second- and third-storey windows;
- corbelled chimney;
- concrete keystones and sills;
- fenestration pattern.

1931 addition:
- mass, form, and scale;
- flat roof;
- red-brick exterior and other brick elements, including stringcourses, pilasters, decorative patterns, Gothic arches around ground floor windows, and frames around other windows;
- concrete keystones, sills, stringcourses, pilaster caps, and decorative squares;
- projecting entrance bay;
- double door entryway with fanlight, flanking brick pilasters, crowning concrete arch topped with a Latin cross, and background concrete decorative elements;
- stepped parapet with niche containing statue of St. Anthony.

1934 addition to east end of 1931 addition:
- mass, form, and scale;
- flat roof;
- red-brick exterior and other brick elements, including stringcourses, pilasters, decorative patterns, and frames around windows;
- concrete sills, pilaster caps, and decorative squares;
- fenestration pattern.

1934 entrance addition:
- mass, form, and scale;
- flat roof;
- red-brick exterior and other brick elements, including stringcourses, Gothic arches around ground floor windows, and single vertical course of bricks above basement windows;
- concrete keystones, sills, and formée cross above entrance;
- stepped battlement;
- fenestration pattern.

1946 gymnasium:
- mass, form, and scale;
- gable roof;
- red-brick exteriors and other brick elements, including stringcourses and pilasters;
- fenestration pattern.

Interior of the institutional complex:
- original interior elements, including flooring, mouldings, trims, doors, fixtures, and staircases.


Location



Street Address: 6770 - 129 Avenue NW
Community: Edmonton
Boundaries: Lots 1C and 1D, Block 19, Plan 9323281
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
9323281
9323281
19
19
1D
1C



Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.588494 -113.445402 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2007/07/16

Historical Information

Built: 1925 to 1925
Significant Date(s)
Theme(s) Building Social and Community Life : Education and Social Well-Being
Building Social and Community Life : Religious Institutions
Historic Function(s): Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Current Function(s):
Architect: Edward Underwood
Builder: J.P. Desrochers
Context: HISTORICAL CONTEXT

With the completion of the Canadian Northern Railway (C.No.R.) to Edmonton in 1905, and the Grand Trunk Pacific (G.T.P.) in 1908, the northeastern portion of the City began to expand, and spill over beyond the City's boundaries. In January 1910, the Village of North Edmonton was incorporated, and, in July 1912, it was annexed by Edmonton. The inhabitants of the district were largely working class people, employed by the railways or the many industries which sprang up near the tracks, like grain elevators, the City stockyards, and Swift's Packing Plant.

Many of the newcomers were eastern European and Roman Catholic. Indeed, their numbers grew so rapidly that the Francophone Bishop of St. Albert, Emile Legal, made an appeal to the Franciscan order in Montreal to establish themselves in the area. The Franciscans were, essentially, a mendicant order of Brothers, and perhaps Bishop Legal felt they would best suit the needs of the rapidly growing community. Bishop Legal initially offered them Our Lady of St. Lourde's parish at Lamoureaux, where the resident Oblate priest had just passed away. This was located across the North Saskatchewan River from Fort Saskatchewan. However, after three Brothers arrived in the spring of 1908, they quickly realized they were needed more in northeast Edmonton. On 1 November 1908, they celebrated the first of several Masses at the site of Swift's packing plant, and, the following year, the decision was made to establish a Franciscan Parish in this district.

In June 1909, a small, temporary friary was built by contractor P. Bernier to facilitate several newly arrived Brothers. It was located at the site of present day 129th Avenue and 66th Street. Almost immediately, work began on a larger facility next door, and, when it was completed in October, the Brothers who were located at Lamoreaux were re-located to this friary. The friary also served as a church until a regular church was constructed in 1911. On 1 July 1911, Bishop Legal granted the Canonical Election of the Parish of St. Francis of Assisi. Shortly thereafter, the Separate School Board of North Edmonton established the St. Francis School nearby. At the time, Bishop Legal estimated the Roman Catholic population of the parish to be 712.

The new parish was plagued by fires. The church was severely damaged in 1915 and completely destroyed in 1947. The friary was destroyed in 1934, and the new one severely damaged in the fire of 1947. Both were eventually replaced. In 1925, another facility was added to the complex. This was St. Anthony's College, which appealed, among others, to young men who had, by now, completed their schooling in the district and were ready to advance to working vocations. The Bishop of Edmonton, H.J. O'Leary, gave his permission for a Seraphic College, and plans were drawn up by Edward Underwood. The contractor was J.P. Derochers, who completed the three-story brick structure in September, 1925 at a cost of $39,633. That fall, seven students were enrolled at St. Anthony's Seraphic College.

In 1926, there were 20 students enrolled at the College, and it soon became evident that the building would not be able to accommodate what was anticipated to be an even greater demand. As a result, a large extension was added in 1931-32 at a cost of $83,000, with Underwood and Derochers again serving as architect and contractor. A small addition to the original building was erected after fire destroyed the friary in 1934, and the College came to serve as a friary as well. The St. Francis Parish Hall was also build in 1931 across 129th Avenue. It was used at various times over the years as a school, a residence, and a chapel. In 1946, a gymnasium was added to the complex, designed by George Heath MacDonald and constructed by Mill & Olsen at a cost of $69, 693.

With such an elaborate facility, it is not surprising the St. Francis Parish and Friary, and St. Anthony's College were identified as the head office of the Major Superior of the Ecclesiastical Province of Christ the King of Western Canada, which included the region from the Ontario border to Vancouver Island. The complex served western Canada until 1970, when the College buildings were made over into a private boarding school. In recent years, they were acquired by the Bosco Child & Family Services Foundation and used as schools for at risk children, a food bank, and other benevolent purposes.



HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The historical significance of St. Anthony's Seraphic College and Friary lies in their service as the major Franciscan training college in western Canada, and the site of the head office of the western Canadian diocese of the Franciscans.

(D. Leonard, March 2006)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-1335
Designation File: DES 2182
Related Listing(s): 4664-0157
Heritage Survey File: HS 56136
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 2182)
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