Section title text:  Archived News.

Changing Views ...
of former St. Mary's Girls' School, Calgary

Photo: The original building with turret roof and no additions.From the window in the room where I work, I now view a very different sight from what used to be across the garden – the former St. Mary’s Girl’ High School. The demolition of the old building in the summer of 2002 gave us many shakes, sneezes and ears full of noise. Maybe some Calgarians, past pupils and teachers even shed some tears seeing that such a historic building could not have been maintained and kept. The Society for the Preservation and Restoration of St. Mary’s worked valiantly to try to save it, but all in vain. However, recently, an article in the daily paper said that the experience of losing such an historic building was a watershed for the city.

Maybe there will be more care and concern in future as to what is allowed to be destroyed!

Photo: View of the old St. Mary's Girls' School somewhat modified over the years.The views from the top windows on the west side of Sacred Heart Convent, changed gradually with time and the seasons, from a school, to heaps of rubble and machines, snow covered land, parked cars and open space. Then on Ash Wednesday, 2004, work started on Our Lady of Lourdes School. The snow melted and a huge lake greeted the workmen, but as spring neared, the land eventually dried.

Two pile drivers and a compactor thumped intermittently, preparing piles for a new, smaller school, hoped to be a “replica” of the old brick and sandstone building, minus the additions. It will have no basement, but the ‘tower’ and entrance will be similar to what S.M.G. once had.

At Sacred Heart Convent, and the FCJ Centre, we were back to noise and shaking for about four weeks. The rattling of the lights was especially disconcerting, and we were worried about what all the vibrating would do to our building. Members of the Catholic School District had met with us and heard our concerns. They hired an engineering company to monitor what was happening inside and out, especially during the pile driving phase. “Tell tales” were put on many of our existing cracks so that movement could be measured. Settlement pins were inserted along the outside foundation to observe any shifts in the levels of the building. The cracks were re-measured and the pins re-surveyed regularly to see if there were changes. From boiler room to top storey of the 1895 wing and in the chapel wing, photos and measurements will record the story.

Artist's sketch of the new school to be built on the site.

The new school is to be for special needs pupils, and the truth is that we are glad that the site will be used for educational purposes. At least there will not be another huge apartment to tower over us. I only hope that when the Mission Area Re-development Plan is completed, the changes will leave this little corner of the district in the peace and quiet which people have come to associate with a ministry the FCJs have carried on here for over a century.

Patricia MacDonald fcJ

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Our little Society has for its end
     to glorify the heart of Jesus
           by  every means in its power ...     (Marie Madeleine)