A Momentous Anniversary in Canada
1837—France to Canada
On October 10, 1837, four pioneering Christian Brothers (Brothers Aidant, Adelbertus, Rombaud, and Euverte) set sail from France across the Atlantic for a totally new venture in the New World. With their destination as Canada, they arrived in New York Harbor on November 3, 1837, and after several days of travel reached Montreal on November 7. They lived temporarily at the Sulpician seminary and they soon started a school in a building situated opposite the seminary. Thus the roots of the Institute were planted in Canada.1
Fast forward 100 years to 1937. Canada marked this special centenary with events in various Canadian cities, notably Quebec (September), Montreal (October), and Toronto (November). On September 25, 1937, in Quebec City, over 10,000 students of Lasallian schools and several hundred Brothers gathered in Victoria Park to participate in a Mass of thanksgiving to open the ceremonies.2
In Montreal, a centenary Mass was celebrated for Lasallian students on Friday, October 1, 1937, with a general assembly at the Montreal Forum that afternoon. On the next day, the inauguration of the La Salle Botanical Garden by Brother Marie Victorin (the eminent Canadian botanist) highlighted the afternoon events, with an oak tree planted that day as a symbol of the friends of the Brothers. The official centenary Mass was celebrated at Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal on Sunday, which was overflowing with prelates, priests, Brothers, and wellwishers.
That evening, a program at the Montreal Forum featured allegorical displays and floats before several thousand spectators. Brother Abban Philip, the assistant Superior General, presented a message from Brother Junien Victor to the Canadian Brothers. Representing the USA Brothers at this event were Brother Galdus Paul (Visitor, Baltimore), Brother E. Victor (Visitor, New York), and Brother Jerome (Visitor, St. Louis).
By the Numbers
The Institute in Canada consisted of 1,300 Brothers working in 85 educational institutions and teaching over 32,000 students.3
A triduum celebration was held in the Toronto area for the centennial as well. Events occurred on November 14 (St. Michael’s Cathedral) and on November 18 (banquet at the King Edward Hotel), and on November 19 in Aurora, Ontario.4