Description of Historic Place
The Miscouche Villa, formerly St. Joseph's Convent, is a large two and one-half storey wood framed building with elements of the Greek Revival architectural style. It is located in the Acadian community of Miscouche, Prince Edward Island.
Constructed in 1864 for the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, St. Joseph's Convent was the first convent to be opened in an Acadian parish in either Prince Edward Island or New Brunswick. The convent school opened in September 1864, with 50 students. Instruction in French, English, history, geography, grammar, music and embroidery provided a higher level of education to local children, and prepared them for post-secondary studies. By 1866, enrolment increased to close to 90 girls, and in 1902 the bilingual institution became a public school. The school began accepting male students in 1914. The convent building was expanded in 1922 to accommodate more students. In addition to day students, upwards of 40 boarded at the convent.
The Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame made significant contributions to the religious and cultural life of the community. Sister Antoinette DesRoches' collection of artifacts and research led to the creation of the nearby Acadian Museum established in 1964.
In 1884, St. Joseph's Convent hosted the Miscouche Convention which attracted speakers and 5,000 members of the Acadian community from PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. A celebration of Acadian culture and identity, many topics were discussed including curbing outmigration and the promotion of the French language. Important outcomes of the convention were the selection of the Acadian flag, motto and anthem "Ava Stella Maris".
After serving as an educational institution for 120 years and housing close to 130 Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, the convent closed in 1984. The building was converted to a senior's residence, known as the Miscouche Villa.
The north wing of the building was removed between 1900 and 1920. This was possibly an earlier structure. In 1922, the building was expanded to the north to a full two storeys, dormers were added, as were the south elevation windows. A concrete basement was constructed and a new front entry system with a second storey deck added. In 1980, an elevator shaft was added to the south elevation.
Miscouche Villa continues to be valued for its strong connection to the history of the Acadian people of Miscouche, its role in the religious and educational history of the province, and its contribution to the streetscape of its community.
Heritage Places files, Department of Education, Early Learning & Culture, Charlottetown, PEI
File # : 4310-20/M41
The following character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of Miscouche Villa / former St. Joseph's Convent:
- the low pitched, gabled roof with returned eaves
- the porch dominating façade with pillars supporting a flat roofed veranda
- the three dormers with gabled roofs on the front elevation, and four dormers on the east elevation
- the symmetrical placement of the windows
- the wide fascia boards under the windows
- the enclosed sun porch with multi-paned windows on the east elevation
Other contributing character-defining elements:
- proximity of the structure in relation to St. John the Baptist R.C. Church, parochial house, and pioneer cemetery of La Riviere-Platte