Sisters of Saint Martha

In August, 1934, the Sisters of Saint Martha, on the invitation of Bishop Monahan, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary, established a small convent in Canmore. The Sisters were to be engaged in social service work in the communities of Exshaw and Canmore. As a result, they operated a kindergarten for all children aged five. The tuition was $2.00 per month per child. No child was turned away because of lack of funds. Also, the Sisters made home visits, started girls’ sewing clubs, and clubs for the youth. These were very ecumenical activities and were enjoyed by people of many faiths.

The Sisters will probably be best remembered for the kindergarten which these remarkable women operated for over twenty-five years. The concerts were wonderful and were held at special times of the year – like Christmas time. The graduations were amazing. For the graduation exercises, each child had a black cap and gown, as well as a graduation certificate. It was a memorable occasion for graduates and family alike.

The Sisters actually served in the community for nearly fifty years. For a little over twenty-five years, they lived in Canmore in the building next to Sacred Heart Church which is still referred to by the old-timers as “The Convent”. When the convent closed in 1961 and the Sisters were withdrawn to the Banff Hospital, several of them drove to Canmore regularly to teach Catechism and to make home visits.

Toward the end of the 1970’s, Sister Margaret Mary Herve, a recently retired teacher from Nova Scotia, volunteered to be a parish worker in Canmore and Exshaw. In a short time, she knew everyone in the communities and made many lasting friends in this area.

About 1984, Sister Margaret Mary was recalled to Bethany, the mother house of her congregation. When she returned to Nova Scotia, the parishes missed the Sisters who had served the community so unselfishly for so many years.

In Canmore Seniors at the Summit, ed. Canmore Seniors Association, 2000, p. 264.

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Canmore Museum