Beginnings Early Education in BC

“A hundred years have slipped away since that

Fair day in June when four brave Sisters came

To this far Western shore to work for God.

We greet you, pioneers, and pledge our love,

Our hearts, our minds, our hands, our very souls,

In effort one, for one great goal to strive.

We humbly pray that, when our lives are done,

Beyond those shining gates we all may meet

And sing for evermore our hymn of praise,

To celebrate before the feet of Christ

The great, unbending Jubilee of Love.”


Centenary Hymn by Sister Mary Rosalinda, S.S.A.



The four Sisters of St. Ann who arrived in Victoria in 1858 are known as the “Pioneer Nuns”. As the first nuns to arrive in present-day British Columbia, these were women of incredible strength and resourcefulness. Expecting an isolated fur-trading fort, the Sisters were surprised to find a Victoria transformed into a gold-obsessed “tent-city”. Undaunted by neither their new environment nor the language barrier, the Sisters immediately set to work opening a school, as well as caring for the sick and orphaned. In time, they would establish St. Ann’s Academy as well as St. Joseph’s Hospital. This website focuses on the first ten years of the Sisters experience in Victoria, with an emphasis on their educational achievements within a microhistorical context.

What is Microhistory?

Microhistory emerged in Europe in the 1960s/70s as an alternative to the traditional macro-historical approach. Up until then, most historical accounts had been focused on large-scale events with the emphasis on political and economic change. Microhistory moves away from the centre to the margins, aiming to uncover “the conditions of everyday life as experienced by the common people.” By focusing on the individual, one can use a single person’s story to understand the larger historical context. To quote John Lutz, microhistory is the asking of big questions in small places.