Mary’s Home – Moncton

Mary's Home Moncton

Mary’s Home – Moncton

In 1895, Father Meahan led a group from St. Bernard’s parish to collaborate with other community members in establishing a hospital. Initially, the committee provided financial assistance to the sick for their stay at the Alms House at Leger Corner (Dieppe). After incorporating, they purchased land on King Street from Michael Spurr Harris for $2,000, and the Moncton Hospital opened its doors on November 11, 1903.

Mary's Home Moncton
Mary’s Home Moncton

Father Meahan’s next objective was to create a home for the elderly and needy. The Peter McSweeney family arrived in Saint John from Ireland and encountered John Wallace, a merchant from Hillsborough, who offered Peter a job as a schoolteacher. The family settled in Hillsborough, expanded to fourteen children, and relocated to Moncton in 1855. Peter (Sr.) constructed a wooden dry goods and furniture store at the corner of Duke and Main Streets, as well as a homestead on a vast tract of land near the Hotel Dieu Hospital (now Dr. Georges Dumont Hospital), which extended up to present-day Mountain Road. Peter (Jr.) built Moncton‘s first department store in 1901 before Eaton’s arrival and was appointed to the Senate. George, another son, purchased the King Hotel at Main and Highfield Streets in 1884, now known as the Crown Plaza. Edward, an active politician, served as Mayor of Moncton in 1879 and 1880.

As Irish Catholics, the McSweeney family was deeply involved in the church and held considerable influence in the community. Father Meahan acquired the McSweeney homestead from Edward’s widow for $5,000. This 22-acre property on Mountain Road in Moncton became the site for Mary’s Home, with the stone for the construction sourced from the McSweeney quarry.

Mary's Home Moncton 1915
Mary’s Home Moncton 1915

Father Edward Savage became the second pastor at St. Bernard’s, having been born in Melrose, NB on January 25, 1859, as the last of thirteen children. Appointed by Bishop Thomas Casey on August 1, 1905, Father Savage referred to the inherited Mary’s Home project as a “pile of rubble” on Mary’s Hill upon his arrival in Moncton. The Home was completed within two years at a cost of $35,000, with the cornerstone laid on Sunday, July 15, 1906, in front of 2,000 to 3,000 spectators. Senator Peter McSweeney, one of the speakers, noted that the building could accommodate 700 to 800 students, with magnificent grounds and an ideal setting for school programs.

On October 6, 1907, Sister Loretto Quirk led a group of nuns from the Mother of Jesus Convent on Botsford Street to the castle-like residence on Mountain Road called Mary’s Home. The twelve classrooms catered to English and French-speaking students, with four designated for French-language instruction. Although initially planned as a home for the aged, it remained a school until 1932 when Mountain Road School was built at the corner of Mountain Road and Archibald Street (now Universite Ave.). This location was also part of the Mary’s Home property. Mountain Road School was demolished in 1990 to make way for a parking lot for the CBAF TV & Radio network and the Dr. Georges Dumont Hospital staff.

Bishop LeBlanc wrote to Father Savage, stating, “Owing to difficulty between the two parishes in Moncton, I have made changes affecting the Mary’s Home property and the vacant church lands in and around Moncton. From this date, I will take direct charge of these properties, and you will kindly refrain from all supervision in connection thereto. All revenues will be paid to me directly or to an agent which I will appoint; this is not intended against you personally.” Mr. R. A. Frechet, an accountant in Moncton, was appointed and acted until a final settlement was reached with the sale of Mary’s Home to the Sisters of Charity on December 31, 1922. Prior to the sale, Father Savage forwarded the deed to the property after agreeing that the sale price would be $33,000. La Paroisse L’Assomption would receive $28,000, and St. Bernard’s would share $5,000, with the understanding that they would pay the debt of $2,400 on Mary’s Home.

On January 1, 1923, Mother M. Alphonsus (Carney) wrote from the Motherhouse in Saint John to Father Savage, expressing gratitude for his role as their benefactor in acquiring the property. In a subsequent note, she mentioned that if a second English-speaking Catholic church was needed, the Sisters of Charity might be willing to provide a location at Mary’s Home. On January 5, Bishop LeBlanc sent his cheque for $5,000 as payment for St. Bernard’s share of the sale of Mary’s Home.

Mary's Home, Moncton, NB

As the Moncton school population continued to grow, it became evident that two new schools were needed, even with Mary’s Home temporarily serving as a school and Wesley Street School being a wooden structure. St. Bernard’s Institute, later called St. Bernard’s School or Queen Street School, was built on St. Bernard’s Church property after demolishing the wooden structure. With its main entrance on Queen Street, the building housed seven classrooms, a combination gymnasium/auditorium on the second floor, and a swimming pool and bowling alley on the first level. The school opened in 1923 and was phased out in 1973. During the same period, Father Henry Cormier built a large school at the corner of Victoria and Church Streets called Sacred Heart Academy. It also contained classrooms, a gymnasium/auditorium, and a bowling alley. Both schools have since been demolished.

In 1923, Rome granted permission for French-speaking sisters to leave the Sisters of Charity and establish the Sisters of Charity of the Sacred Heart, with the motherhouse in Memramcook. Fifty-three sisters joined the new group, while some remained at Mary’s Home. The separation occurred on February 17, 1924.

Two years after the classrooms were vacated, Mary’s Home reopened as a home for the aged, as originally intended, accommodating up to fifty persons with Sister Mercedes as the supervisor. Sister Mercedes also served as a teacher and principal at Queen Street School until 1960, a tenure of thirty-seven years.

On June 18, 1973, Archbishop Donat Chaisson granted official permission to close Mary’s Home. The Sisters of Charity, whose numbers had been decreasing, moved to a Bonaccord Street residence in September and named it St. Bernard’s Convent. They had been at Mary’s Home for over sixty-six years.

The Home was purchased by Robert Alcorn and renamed Alcorn Manor, continuing to operate as a home for the elderly. Since then, different owners have taken possession, and the Home has been called Alcorn Centre 1986 Ltd., The Baron’s Senior Centre, and Castle Manor since October 15, 1998.

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3 thoughts on “Mary’s Home – Moncton

  1. I also attended Mountain Road School and had the great good fortune of studying under Sister Ethelreda! She was kind but firm and an accomplished leader. She was even handed and fair and I never saw her lose her temper or become frustrated. I have always seen her as a bit of a saint.

  2. I attended Mountain Road School in the 1960s. We had a tour of Mary’s home and you were even allowed into the basement where we were told anyone that died had been put until burial. It scared us. I remember many of my teachers and at 63 have only good memories. I still have photos inside Of Mountain Road school. None of Mary’s Home.

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