Breaking ground in a historic way

BY VERONICA STIENBURG, ARCHIVIST

On Friday, May 4th the groundbreaking for Hospice Kingston, the first partner in Providence Village, took place on the Motherhouse grounds. There have been numerous groundbreakings on the property before this, as the congregation built and added onto the Motherhouse itself.

The first groundbreaking occurred on July 2, 1931, when Archbishop Spratt broke ground for the construction of the Motherhouse. The Congregational annals recorded the event:

All the Mothers went out to the farm this afternoon, for His Excellency, the Archbishop, is to turn the first sod for the new building. He had not much time for ceremony for a great storm came in a few minutes which put an end to the prayers. They then adjourned to [Heathfield Villa] where they spent a pleasant hour or two. It was nearly 9 o’clock when the Assistants reached home.

The next groundbreaking took place on March 30, 1953 to start the construction of the Marian Wing. The Archbishop was unable to attend, so Fr. Rowell, the Motherhouse chaplin, took his place.  

In the Archives we have a lighthearted photograph of the event:

More than 20 Sisters of Providence with Father Rowell who has a shovel in the ground.

In 1964 construction began on a large addition project that included the administration wing, the kitchen, laundry & boiler room wing, the extension of the Marian Wing, and the extension of the wing that now houses the Spirituality Centre.  The groundbreaking took place on June 15, 1963, in what is now the courtyard between the auditorium and the administration wing. The event was described in the congregational annals:

“In connection with the observance of our two diamond jubilations, two golden, and five silver anniversaries, we had a short ceremony of the “turning of the sod” on the new wing. His Grace Archbishop O’Sullivan presided. In the presence of a large number of priests and Sisters, His Grace turned the first sod.”

Archbishop O'Sullivan with a shovel in the ground and standing near several Sisters of Providence.
June 15, 1963 Front row, Left to Right: Archbishop O’Sullivan, Sr. Mary Jean, Sr. Mary Lenore. Sr. Mary Alban, Sr. Mary Electa, Sr. Mary Ivan, and Sr. Mary Scholastica.

The last major addition was the chapel in 1969, but I did not find any documentary evidence of a groundbreaking ceremony. We are sure to see more groundbreaking ceremonies on the Motherhouse property in the future as Providence Village progresses and develops.

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Providence Motherhouse

1200 Princess Street, P.O. Box 427
Kingston, Ontario, K7L 4W4

613-544-4525
info@providence.ca

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