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The History of Nazareth Orphanage - Outreach to Children
By Sister Dolores Kane
Caring People Helping People

Nazareth Orphanage Three years after the opening of St. Paul's Home, another desperate need became evident. A society called "Children's Aid" had been formed to attend to the housing needs of destitute children until they were placed in permanent homes. It became extremely difficult to find shelter for these children, and it was then that Nazareth Orphanage came into being.

Two small frame homes were purchased and placed together on Mulberry Lane. Nazareth Orphanage opened on January 16, 1909. By September of that year 26 children were housed in these small buildings. Although far from suitable, the orphanage provided food and shelter until a better building could be found.

In October 1909 the Greenwood House on York Street became the orphanage and served as such until November 28, 1919. On that day the children were moved to "The Highland Manor", the residence of Mrs. John McMartin, located on the southwest corner of Second and Sydney Streets. As a memorial to her late husband, Mary McMartin deeded the property to the Sisters of the Hotel Dieu for the Orphans' Home. The gift represented between $80,000 and $100,000. She also provided the funds to heat the orphanage.

Bishop W.A. Macdonell blessed the house and the Oratory, after which he celebrated Holy Mass. Children were received up to 12 years of age, and as soon as they were of school age the girls were sent to the Convent school of Notre Dame and the boys to the school of the Presentation Brothers. Their education was on a par with that of the other school children.

Father William Fox served as Chaplain at this time, and Dr. Nichol was one of the physicians who provided medical care for the orphans. Five Sisters were assigned to staff and live at the new orphanage. The government paid only two cents per day for each child, so the Sisters found it difficult to meet the expenses of clothing and feeding the children. They had to begin begging more often. The ladies of the town helped by forming the Nazareth Orphanage Society and devoting much time and effort to help with the orphans' care.

On Friday, May 4, 1950, as Sisters Cameron, St. Emily, St. Monica, and Mary Theresa were sitting down to lunch, the fire alarm sounded. Five preschool children were being fed in the dining room. Rev. G.S. Lloyd, Pastor of St. John's Presbyterian Church, was the first to arrive on the scene and to offer his assistance. The Sisters and the children were safely outside when the Fire Department arrived. Mrs. Stuart McDougall, a neighbour, took the five little ones into her home. Representatives of the Children's Aid Society arrived to pick up the children who had been in school and take them to the Salvation Army Citadel until their relatives could come for them. The cause of the fire was unknown, but it was thought to have been due to faulty electrical wiring.

The orphanage site was later expropriated so that the city's Post Office could be built there. In 1994 a decision was made to renovate that building and make it the main branch of the Cornwall Public Library.