A Century of Educational Service

A change of vocation

At the start of the 1980s the Ave Maria school only enrolled students in Grades 4, 5 and 6, because for several years now new tenants had shared space with the school: the Sutton community library moved there in 1978, and from 1979 to 1982 the Arts Sutton Gallery organized exhibitions in what had been the gym.

At the same time, says Louise Delorme-Kelly, discussions started between the anglophone and francophone school commissions to bring all students together in one building on rue Highland. The feeling was that the Ave Maria school was too dilapidated to be saved. As for the Frère-André school, it was in better shape, but not big enough to accommodate all of the the francophone students.

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Thirty-five years later, the building that for a century successively housed Sutton Academy/Sutton High School and the Ave Maria school, is still being used. The Sutton Community Library has been located there, uninterrupted, for 43 years now, along with more recent arrivals such as: the Jardin d’enfants de Sutton (for preschoolers), which has benefitted from a spacious room on a floor blessed with large windows since 1996; the Arts Sutton  Gallery, which moved into the former gym in 1986; Le Spot, a space for young people; and the Centre d’action bénévole, known as CAB (the Sutton Volunteer Centre).

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Credit :  Louise Harpin

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The John-Sleeth Centre today
Credit:  Louise Harpin

How much longer will this last? That question is on everyone’s lips because of a major accumulation of maintenance issues that have plagued the building since the first bricks were laid in 1886.

Today, the spot where school buses used to drop students off is used to play pétanque. And people picnic in the shade of two, large maple trees that landscape designer Louis De Gagné planted in the 1970s along with the children from his son Alexandre’s kindergarten: a reminder of the educational vocation of a building that for 100 years watched thousands of English- and French-speaking youngsters and teenagers from Sutton come and go.

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Credit: Louise Harpin

Script, editingJeanne Morazain
Revisions, coordinationLynette Enevoldsen, Louise Harpin
InterviewsLynette Enevoldsen, Louise Harpin
ResearchJeanne Morazain, Lynette Enevoldsen, Louise Harpin
FilmingLouis Charles Pilon
Video editingGilles Gauthier
TranscriptionJoanne Bégin, Liz Tansey
PhotographyLouise Harpin, Paul Kinnis
TranslationKen Whittingham
Web IntegrationManon Gélinas, Gilles Gauthier
PartnersSalle communautaire de Sutton Junction.
This project was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Government of Québec and the Town of Sutton.