|Air Photo Study|
Scholasticate Life in the 1930's
If the technology had been available in the 1930's we could have taken a virtual walk, with the aid of the computer, through a religious community that bustled with activity. Perhaps a similar mode is possible with the use of the following text and pictures.
|Later you can go to a hot linked map here of the pictures below as well as many other photographs in the Image Gallery. Please note that all of the pictures below are hot linked to larger views. Use the "Back Button" on the browser to return to this page.|
Let's take that walk now, beginning on Main St., approximately at the
intersection of Herridge.
To your right, looking through the giant pillars formed by the elms, was a dense maple forest. It was the last stand of the hardwood forest (some still survive) and was used regularly by the Oblates as a 'sugar bush'.
To the left, across a large expanse of cultivated fields was Holy Martyrs School. This was operated by the Oblates for Catholic children in Ottawa East whom Grey Nuns taught. Further north was the Church of Ste. Famille that served both French and English Catholics.
|Proceeding down the road through "The Cathedral", on the right were pathways leading to a circular garden surrounded by manicured trees, shrubs and flowers and centered by a statue. Priests seeking quiet contemplation on their meditative walks, a mainstay of life at St. Joseph's, used this somewhat private walkway.|
|Arriving at the Scholasticate, several choices were available. To the right was a very long walkway leading toward Clegg St. Down this path, on the left, were orchards planted where the original "White House" (Maison Blanche) once stood. This building, torn down circa 1926, was the very first church and schoolhouse in Ottawa East, built about 1871. Interspersed amongst the apples were tennis courts.|
|Further along was a vast cultivation of vegetables. On the right, a busy greenhouse was used for tool storage and seedling cultivation. Behind the greenhouse, towards Main St., lay a dense grove of sugar maples and a cabin for making maple syrup. The fields to the left contained almost every vegetable needed to feed the large community. Closer to the river were extensive pastures for milk cows and beef cattle.|
|At the very end of this path was Ottawa East's only cemetery ever. Secluded
from the nearby street by trees, the burial ground is shaped in the form
of a cross. At the head of the cross, 158 priests were buried, with 3 nuns
at the base. Records reveal that the earliest interment was in the 1860's;
and the remains of all buried there were exhumed in 1977 to be buried in
Notre Dame Cemetery in Hull.
|Returning now to the Scholasticate, take a right and follow the walkway to the area behind the main building. The land slopes down to the river here. The first structure encountered is a raised covered walkway used by priests during inclement weather to stroll and chat with others. It also served as a convenient grand stand in the winter with a strategically located hockey rink just opposite|
|Proceeding on you would have noticed cows mooing to the right as they munched on grass by the river.|
|A sturdy wharf jutted out into the Rideau River with many canoes tied up. Canoes were important to the Oblates as each summer many of the residents paddled down to the Ottawa and then onto the Blanc River near Perkins where a camp was maintained for recreation and developing outdoor skills. It should be remembered that upon becoming a priest, young men were often sent to isolated communities, particularly in the Northwest Territories. Even though on a spiritual quest, in the North, it had to be remembered that God can only help those who know how to build a fire, stay warm and paddle.|
|Further along behind the Scholasticate were the hand ball courts and a
separated heating plant with a huge smokestack. It was decided early on
that this was the safest way to heat the building.
|Next is the location of the very first convent built in Ottawa East. The Sisters of the Sacred Heart lived here and took care of the kitchen and laundry for the Oblates.|
|Finally along this route was the chicken house and barn. The barn, later converted to a garage, originally housed horses and cows. The chicken house was just that - a house with chickens. It had an adjacent abattoir where the fowl and beef cattle were slaughtered. With their own fresh milk and vegetables, maple syrup and a variety of orchard fruit, the Oblate community fed a couple of hundred people each day|
|And now on to the Scholasticate itself - that huge monolithic structure
that stands far back from Main St. Built in 1885, the structure itself has
gone through many changes along with several additions over the years. A
complete history of the building can be found here. In the 1930's it
was the center of a spiritual world quite distinct from the surrounding
community but just as complex.
|During the 1930's new enrolment by novitiates ranged from 10 to 30 per
year. They joined a community of a couple of hundred other students and
priests housed in the building. The daily commute of dozens of students
from the Scholasticate to classes at the University of Ottawa in their black
cassocks was a regular scene in the community.
|The Scholasticate had 3 main floors during this time period. An aerial view taken in 1928 shows a long, linear building with two wings in the back facing the river. Click on the air photo and note the cemetery at the very bottom just north of the dirt road (Clegg St.).|
|It housed mainly students and professors who utilized a large cafeteria, extensive library and an ornate chapel. The library held books mainly for theological study as would be expected. It is interesting to note that many of these books date back to the Fifteenth Century.|
|A large bell tower stood at the center front of the building. The bell
was the largest ever in the history of Ottawa East and was installed in
1886. Given the central location of the building in the surrounding community,
the regular tolling of the bell must have added to the rhythm of the village.
Everybody had to know when it was lunchtime!
|Prayer and study controlled life for the typical novitiate. Early to rise, pray, eat and then off to school was the regimen, only to repeat the process in reverse later in the day. Free time was spent walking the grounds or using the recreational facilities. Apart from study, the average student would only be involved in physical work during the harvest or in activities such as making maple syrup.|
|Most of the physical work in support of the Scholasticate community, from animal husbandry to field cultivation, was taken care of by the Oblate Brothers. They were men who served the Oblate Order as part of their spiritual devotion. The did not study to become priests, instead they preferred to raise amazing crops.|
|The Sisters who lived in the adjoining convent provided all residents
of the Scholasticate with meals and laundry. Originally it was the Sisters
of the Sacred Heart and later the Sisters of the Holy Family. There is more
on the various Orders of Sisters and the convents connected with the Scholaticate
|Leaving the Scholasticate through the front door, across the drive is another garden ringed by walkways and centered by the statue of St. Joseph. To the right down the road lined by elms is the Ste. Famille Church. Built in 1902, it served Ottawa East Catholics as a bilingual parish until replaced decades later by the new church on Glenora.|
|Continuing down the road which was later named Oblate Avenue,
you arrive at the end of the walk.
But there is more if you have the inclination.
Go here to view a hot linked sketch map of the grounds as described in the walk you have just taken.
|Additionally you can view
more pictures in a slide show by going here.
|The total collection of pictures offers a unique opportunity for the reader, as many of these historical views have never been seen outside of the Scholaticate community. In some cases the original glass negatives were loaned to the History Project Committee for reproduction offsite. In all, these pictures offer a rare glimpse of a unique community in Ottawa East.|
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