St. Patrick’s Home

Submitted by Devonna Edwards

Located on Mumford Road. The first St. Patrick’s Home for boys opened on October 2,1885 on the old Murphy homestead, known as Pleasant Valley Farm. The property, owned by John Murphy, contained forty-eight acres, between Dutch Village Road (renamed Joseph Howe Drive) and Mumford Road. On the farm there were two barns, two other tenant residences, and a small cottage. The cottage was renovated for the accommodation of twenty-five boys. The home was a reformatory for Catholic boys, a training and industrial school, where young wayward boys who were sentenced by the magistrate or Police Court to be incarcerated in the home, instead of going to jail. The Home was named after Patrick Power; he was a rich merchant, who became an alderman and was appointed to the Canadian Senate, he was also a devout Catholic who left his money, in his will, for the new institution.

The Brothers of the Christian Schools from the New York Province took charge of the new institution;

– Brother Candidus Francis was the first director. Two other brothers were Brother John, teacher; and Brother Ignatius, prefect. The Brothers were specialists in the teaching and training of boys.

– The home was built to house twenty-five boys but soon it was over crowded with fifty boys. An extension was built onto the first structure but by 1906 the home housed over a hundred boys.

– In 1920 the Superintendent of Neglected and Delinquent Children, Ernest Blois wrote that conditions were not what they should be in the institution due to over-crowding but it took many more years before a larger home became a reality.

The second St. Patrick’s Home opened on August 14, 1927 opposite the first home on Mumford Road. It was located where the Halifax Shopping Center stands today. The new building was constructed by MacDonald Construction and A.R. Cobb was the architect. The structure had three floors and a basement. The basement contained the boiler rooms, manual training room, gymnasium and two recreation rooms, billiard room and two toilets rooms, also two washrooms. The ground floor contained the auditorium, dining room, kitchen and pantry, two reception rooms, four class rooms, two reading rooms, and a large lounge room. The second floor had a large chapel, three dormitories, the Brother’s dining room, doctor’s room, nurse’s room, washrooms, and toilets, also the Brother’s quarters.

The third floor contained two large dormitories, the upper part of the chapel, toilet and washrooms and the Brother’s quarters.The new home was built to accommodate 125 boys. The Brothers of the Christian Schools managed the second home as well, brothers Candidus, Lawrence, Jones, Bazil, Remigius, Stanislaus, William, Francis and Brother Aileran. The home was not a prison and was said that within its walls there was a touch of home life. The boys all went to school and had manual training.

One event that entertained the home boys was a boxing tournament called “The Columbin’s Boxing and Boy Punch Tournament.” The show opened with three-round exhibition by two midgets (the word midget is inappropriate today, the proper words to use are little people.) Their names were Corrigan and Graham, and they put on a good show. The next pair to spar was Beazley and Smith. Barney Campbell and Arthur opened. Tom Foley and Smith were next in the 140 pound class, then after that came Morrison and Carroll. Two sailors, Houlett, of the Commons and Fry, of the Buzzard boxed last.

St. Patrick’s Home had a baseball team and they also had their own ball field located next to the home.

This article was written in the Evening Mail Newspaper on June 19,1930:

“Under the careful coaching of Brother Ignatius, the lads of St. Patrick Boy’s Home have organized two baseball teams, a Midget and a Junior. The two squads are speedy and have played a number of games. Then new diamond at the home is kept continually in excellent condition. On Friday night the home boys trounced a Dartmouth boys team on the home diamond by the score of 18-6. Grant who pitched for the home team, did not allow one safe hit in the entire nine innings that he pitched. Tuesday evening the home team defeated St. Therea’s by nine runs.”

The Home Junior Team is as follows:

Grant, pitcher; Keddy, catcher; Vincent Peebles, first base; Tom West, second base; McIsaac, short stop; F. Wheipley, third base; G. Mazerall, right field; R. Smith, center field; L. Landry, left field.

In 1955 the home was no longer able to operate and closed its doors. Residents of St. Patrick’s Home were then moved to the Nova Scotia School for Boys in Shelburne. In 1956 St. Patrick’s Home property (25 acres) was sold by the Roman Catholic Corporation of Halifax.
The property was sold to T. Eaton Co. Realty Ltd.

The Industrial School

Located on the corner of Quinn Street and Quinpool Road. The building was designed by Henry F. Busch and was described as handsome and spacious. It first opened to residents in 1871. Prior to the opening of the new building, delinquent and neglected boys were housed in a building on the corner of Spring Garden Road and Carlton Street. These boys did not fit into the public schools and many of the boys had no homes and were street boys. These boys were called “incorrigible, wayward and truant.” The boys in the Industrial School ranged in age from eight to sixteen years old. They were housed in dormitories which had fourteen to seventeen beds in each. In 1880 thirty-eight boys resident in the Protestant Industrial School. The school provided basic vocational training for boys, it also included eight hours of rudimentary general education a week, since many of the boys could not read or write when admitted. Many of the boys were taught boot and shoe-making in Amos A. Bliss’s workshop and sold the shoes they made. Others cleaned carpets, cut kindling wood, made paper bags, did printing and tailoring and they also earned money for “drumming” broom handles. All the money went to the school.

In the Citizen Newspaper on November 21, 1924 stated that it was proven that there were brutal beating given by the Superintendent, his son and other officers, except the forman. The boys were beaten with fists, feet, a heavy horse trace, a rawhide lash, and broom handles. It was proven that William John’s, who was convicted of a brutal assault upon one of the boys and sentenced to two months in jail, was released in about two weeks and was taken back by the institution.

The boys were underfed and were beaten frequently, almost daily. It was also proven that the boys were shut in “The Coop”, which was a long narrow cell, for very trifling offences and were kept there for days at a time without bed or chair or even a stool. They were compelled to stand in “The Coop” with their hands cuffed behind them, and they had to stand there facing the wall all night. The night-watchman was instructed to watch them so that they did not settle down on the floor or go to sleep on their feet.

The Superintendent denied a great deal of the charges but acknowledged having boys held by the head and feet across the back of a chair, while he laid on the lash and left scars on their bare backs. The boys were forced to work from early morning until night at their work and were kept from their school work at times. The boys were also not properly clothed. The Citizen Newspaper had a great deal more evidence available which was held so as not to prolong the inquiry. A thirteen year old boy named Inkus, who they said had the mind of a five year old was tortured all the time and made to do horrible things, too disturbing for me to write about.

The Evening Mail Newspaper reported that Judge Hunt said that he would not send any more boys to the home until an investigation took place and that he had no hesitancy in saying that the “Inkus” matter was true, and that it should be taken to the Attorney General and the offenders dealt with. An inquiry was held and the Superintendent was fired along with many others. After the inquiry the institution was reformed, many rules were put in place by the Board of Directors and carefully carried out. The boys were properly fed, clothed and treated so much better after that.

In 1947 the Industrial School for boys closed due to lack of funds. The Provincial Department of Public Welfare took over the facility on September 15, 1947. The school was renamed the Nova Scotia School for Boys. The Halifax facility was quickly deemed inadequate and in 1948 the school was relocated to Shelburne.