34. The Brothers Residence
When Vancouver College was founded in 1922, Principal Br. Jerome Lannon and fellow Christian Brothers Patrick Keane, Vitalis Reid, and Claver Murtagh lived in a house on 1112 Broughton Street, about two kilometres from Rosary Hall where classes were held. The Brothers were there temporarily for two years.
In September 1925 the school started classes in its new site at Shaughnessy Heights, and adjacent to Lannon Hall was St. Michael's Hall, the Brothers’ residence. St. Michael’s Hall was also designed by Twizzel and Twizzel and constructed in under six months by Archie Sullivan. The Brothers’ residence stood along the northeast corner of the campus.
During the 1978-79 school year, a master development plan of the College’s future campus was drawn, the first phase of which included a new Brothers residence to replace the aging St. Michael’s Hall. On August 27, 1980, the initial foundations for the new residence were laid, and less than one year later in the summer of 1981, the new residence, named in honour of Brother Walsh, was completed. In August that same year, St. Michael’s Hall was torn down and replaced by a parking lot.
The construction of Walsh Residence was funded by the successful Diamond Jubilee Campaign that included benefactors John Davidson, James O’Hagan (VC 1925), John Brown (VC 1950), David Dumaresq (VC 1955), Peter Gregory (VC 1949), William Lynch (VC 1951), Dermot Murphy, and Raymond Olma. Walsh Residence, which could accommodate twenty-five Brothers, was designed by Architect Dan White. During their 37 years in this residence, the Brothers opened their home to members of the Vancouver College community for many events. The annual Mothers Christmas Tea was held there from the 1980s to 2012 (when it had to be moved to the Alumni Gymnasium because the event had grown so much). Many end of the school year staff parties were hosted by the Brothers in their home as well. Since the school did not have its own Chapel until recently, students and staff often booked the chapel in the Brothers Residence for Masses, retreats, or silent reflection.
In November 2016, a farewell gathering took place for the Christian Brothers in their residence in celebration and gratitude for their years of service and their generosity in offering their home as the grounds for the new Middle School, Manrell Hall. At the Manrell Hall groundbreaking ceremony held on February 16, 2017, those in attendance including Brothers Conti, Flood, Gale, and Thorne shared fond memories of their former home. Brother Flood, a VCL Board Member at the time, remarked, “We had wonderful times in the Brothers Residence. We will miss sitting around the dinner table, prayers and Mass in the chapel, and the many celebration gatherings with the VC community. That being said, we are blessed that Manrell Hall will provide the learning experience and much needed space for the students to continue their education and grow their faith.”
During the construction of the new Brothers Residence (now situated in Lannon Hall), the Brothers moved into their temporary home in the Saint John Paul II Pastoral Center in Vancouver. They returned to their new residence on campus in Lannon Hall in September 2020.
Although the Brothers’ residences have looked different over the years, from their temporary accommodation in downtown Vancouver when VC was initially founded, to St. Michael’s Hall and then the great Walsh Residence, the importance of these buildings as homes for our Christian Brothers, as spiritual leaders and educators to our community, cannot be overstated.
By: Ronith Cogswell