File 2.50 - Fundraising booklet and booklet on the official opening of the arena, Garnier Residential School

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Fundraising booklet and booklet on the official opening of the arena, Garnier Residential School

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CA CDA D-3.2.50

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Administrative history

The Jesuit Residential School at Spanish was a residential school for Indigenous peoples operated by the Society of Jesus. Prior to the activities at Spanish, a day school was established in 1838 by the Jesuits at Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island. The school for Indigenous boys was administered by the Jesuits and, after 1862, the school for Indigenous girls was managed by the Daughters of Mary. The Indigenous students at Wikwemikong, and then Spanish, came from First Nations communities in the Manitoulin Island area, and as far as the Ahkwesáhsne, Kahnawà:ke, and Kanehsatà:ke communities.

After the 1850 Robinson-Huron Treaty, when the federal government began providing financial support for education at Wikwemikong, the schools were reorganized and became the Wikwemikong Industrial School. The school officially opened on September 3, 1878. It began to receive major financial support from the federal government, which increased the collaboration between the Jesuits and the Department of Indian Affairs regarding the management of the institution and the education of Indigenous students. Following the 1894 amendment to the Indian Act, which required First Nations children to attend residential schools, the school at Wikwemikong became part of the educational system controlled by the Department of Indian Affairs.

Following the federal government’s recommendations regarding the education of Indigenous children, in addition to conflicts at Wikwemikong including the 1911 strike and the burning of the girls’ school, it was decided to transfer the residential school out of proximity of Indigenous communities. This decision was taken along new federal grant systems to finance residential schools. The residential school moved to the town of Spanish, and was renamed Spanish Indian Residential School. It opened on July 23, 1913, with the arrival of the boys to the facility. The Spanish Indian Residential School for Girls opened on or around August 15, 1913.

Increased enrollment, particularly from the Kahnawà:ke, Ahkwesáhsne, and Kanehsatà:ke communities, expanded the mission, which needed to tend to the school all year long. The school’s operations, with the contribution of Indigenous children, included managing the farm, growing vegetables, maintaining the buildings, and teaching different trades.

Discussions involved the development of a high school program to revitalize the scope of the Jesuits’ missionary work. The high school, named St. Charles Garnier, began its operations in 1947. Enrollment increased rapidly during the first few years of operation but began to decline in the mid-1950s. This, combined with internal strife, Jesuit personnel disillusionment, and problems of infrastructure, led to the closing of the elementary and high schools at Spanish. The school for boys closed on June 30, 1958 while the school for girls closed on June 30, 1962.

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D-0003, U. R. 8, S2, D3; S1, SS4, D2

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