Loretto Academy Niagara (1861-1969): Education Under the Rainbow

Elizabeth Smyth


This essay explores the origins of, and elements of teaching and learning at Loretto Niagara, a girls’ boarding and day school operated by the Irish-based Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (The Loretto Sisters). Three key individuals shaped the development of Loretto Niagara: Michael Power, the first Roman Catholic Bishop of Toronto, Archbishop John Joseph Lynch, his second successor and Mother Teresa Dease, one of Loretto’s Canadian pioneers. Power was the bishop who invited the community to Canada; Lynch imagined a Catholic educational presence on the shores of the Falls and Dease contributed to the actualization of that vision. Through an analysis of archival sources, the paper argues that in the course of its 100 plus year existence, Loretto Niagara’s physical location gave shape to its overt and hidden curriculum. Its history documents the complexities of the intersection of gender and religion in the education of young women.


Women religious; girls’ education

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