St. Ann’s Academy National Historic Site
Walk through the wrought-iron gate, along the drive, up the grand staircase and in the former school’s formal entrance. View the 1920’s era parlours then enter the chapel. Once Victoria’s first Roman Catholic Cathedral, it was built in 1858 and moved and added to the school in 1886. Like the many rural French Canadian churches it is modeled after, it has ornate altar and ceiling carvings, gold-leaf detailing, original oil paintings, stained glass windows and a 1913 Casavant pipe organ. The resplendent Novitiate garden at the side entrance to the Chapel has a geometric herb bed, perennials and a recreated 1925 summerhouse. The 1910 formal garden at the north-west corner of the property contains rare trees and the remains of a unique fountain.
The Public Works Department of the BC government purchased the building from the Sisters of St. Ann in 1974. Initially used as office space, the old wood and brick building suffered from years of minimal maintenance and was eventually condemned by the City of Victoria. The building remained closed for more than a decade as plans were considered for the redevelopment of the property. With the completion of the Victoria Accord, a redevelopment plan was recreated. The Provincial Capital Commission partnered with the BC Buildings Corporation to complete a two year, $16.2 million renovation of the 76,000 square foot building. A portion of the building (the Interpretive Centre) was restored to a 1920’s appearance while the majority of the building was converted into modern office space. The Ministry of Advanced Education leases the office space while the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services operates the Interpretive Center, celebrating the history of this important landmark. The 1910 auditorium has also been restored and, along with 6 acres of grounds, is also available for public use.
HOURS OF OPERATION AND PUBLIC ACCESS
Winter hours, September to Mid-May:
St. Ann’s Academy is open 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm., Thursday through Sunday.
Summer hours, Mid-May to Labour Day:
Open 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Wednesday to Monday (closed Tuesdays) See note below on access!
An important note on public access:
Please note that full access can sometimes be restricted due to rental functions, particiularly during holiday seasons and the summer.
We are a dynamic site with a wide program of interpretaion and rentals: St. Ann’s Academy hosts over 120 wedding rentals and many festivals and events every year! Each year, more than 30,000 people visit the property, participate in formal programs, attend theater, music and dance performances, or celebrate weddings and public festivals.
So if you are coming on a weekend or summer afternoon, or have any questions, we advise that you phone ahead to make sure we are fully open. The outside grounds are open dawn to dusk, with some rare exceptions for summer festivals.
Admission is by donation. Visitors may drop in freely during regular operating hours. Volunteers are available to answer questions and provide information.
Guided tours for groups of 10 or more are available on a pre-arranged basis. Tours last about 1 hour. Arrangements can be made for group visits outside of normal operating hours. Special programs are available for school groups.
St. Ann’s Academy carries an exciting and innovative selection of souvenirs that are now available. We also have a large selection of bridal items for purchase or rent; please see our Details page.
The Chapel Today – Open to All
The Chapel was deconsecrated as part of the sale to the provincial government in 1974. Upon restoration, it was re-consecrated in a multi-faith ceremony as an interfaith facility. There is no congregation and therefore there are no regular services, but it remains as a special and sacred space for many in the community.
The chapel is available for viewing or quiet contemplation during regular operating hours.
For a PDF guide to the gardens and grounds, click HERE.
Location: 835 Humboldt St.