Brantford Young Ladies College
The Brantford Young Ladies College operated in Brantford, Ontario between 1874 and 1910.
Jennie Foster Kennedy, who created the Butchart Gardens, attended the Brantford Young Ladies College circa 1881.
The Brantford Young Ladies College occupied the former home of the late Hon. E.B. Wood, formerly the Chief Justice of Manitoba. When the Brantford Young Ladies College closed in 1910, this building was demolished and replaced with the current Brantford Collegiate Institute.
Here is a map showing the location of the Brantford Collegiate Institute:
Here is a Google Street View image of the Brantford Collegiate Institute:
Here is a very brief history of the Brantford Young Ladies College from Chapter 2 of our Butchart Gardens History:
“The Brantford Young Ladies College had been incorporated on 16 September 1874, after a public meeting in the Brantford City Council Chamber on March 24, 1874 passed resolutions stating that it was “highly desirable that a Ladies’ College be established in Brantford” and “that as a guarantee of the educational and moral training of the pupils, said College should be in connection with one of the Evangelical denominations.” The denomination decided upon was the Presbyterian Church of Canada.
As its campus and residence, the College purchased the Brantford home of the late Hon. E.B. Wood, formerly the Chief Justice of Manitoba, renovating and extending the building to accommodate 80 boarding students.
The Brantford Young Ladies College offered a three year diploma program. It was highly regarded and in 1879, the University of Toronto began holding entrance exams specifically for the College’s graduates which, if passed, guaranteed admission to the University. The Governor-General of Canada supported this initiative by introducing an annual award for the student achieving the highest score on the University of Toronto entrance exam [note: see an example below]. By 1883, a journalist reported that the “College is now well established and equipped, and both in its literary course and in the departments of music and fine arts, it has taken first rank as an institution for the higher education of ladies.” Its reputation attracted students from all parts of Canada as well as from the United States.
Unfortunately this reputation did not ensure the school’s survival. In 1900, it changed its name to the “Brantford Young Ladies College & Conservatory of Music,” in what may have been an attempt to expand its student base and increase its revenues. If that was, in fact, the school’s intention, it didn’t work; the “Brantford Young Ladies College & Conservatory of Music” closed permanently in 1910. The College’s building is no longer standing; it was demolished in 1910 and replaced by the present day Brantford Collegiate Institute.”
The following photos of medals and medallions associated with the Brantford Young Ladies College are from the collection of David Pease and are used here with his permission. He has an ancestral connection to the college which he describes as “Lillie Cockshutt [my great grandmother], her sister, Nellie Cockshutt, and Nora Wallace, their eventual sister-in-law, attended the institution. All these ladies were residents of Brantford at the time and no doubt were “day students” [at the Brantford Young Ladies College] but I have no proof of that….”
Research for our Butchart Gardens History indicates that the Governor General of Canada awarded an annual medal for the Brantford Young Ladies College student achieving the highest score on the University of Toronto entrance exam and that this medal was being awarded in 1879 and in subsequent years.
But it is possible that this Governor General’s medal was being awarded to Brantford Young Ladies College students earlier than 1879. Below are photos of a medal presented by Governor General Lord Dufferin and Lady Dufferin in 1878 to Miss Nora V. Wallace (1863-1941), a resident of Brantford, Ontario who was a student at the Brantford Young Ladies College.
David Pease also supplied us with this transcript from an 1883 publication, The History Of The County of Brant:
“The Brantford Young Ladies College, established in 1874, in connection with the Presbyterian Church in Canada, has met with a gratifying measure of success. Its graduates, numbering already 58, from all parts of the Dominion of Canada and the United States, indicate the high standing it has attained and the thorough character of the education imparted. The General Assembly [of the Presbyterian Church], for a series of years past, has warmly commended the institution to the confidence and support of the church at large.
The location of the College is all that can be desired as a home for Young Ladies. While offering the most complete retirement for study, it is at the same time within easy walking distance of the principal business streets of the city, and commands a view of the surrounding country that cannot be surpassed for extent and beauty. The house has been finished with a degree of elegance” but seldom seen in first-class private residences, much less in public institutions. The grounds, extending to three and a half acres, are beautifully laid out, and everything provided that can conduce to the health and comfort of the pupils.
The building, which is throughout heated with steam, lighted with gas, and provided with bath-rooms, has been suitably furnished, and no expense spared to render the College at once attractive and comfortable.
Brantford is very pleasantly situated on the Grand River, and in the midst of one of the most fertile and attractive districts of the Province of Ontario. It is a very healthy place, and for beautiful drives and picturesque surroundings, it is acknowledged to be one of the most inviting cities in Canada. Of late years it has become a leading resort for summer travel from all parts of the continent, on account of its attractions, and for the sake of its mineral springs and baths.
The city has a population of over 10,000, and is situated on the line of the Great Western and Grand Trunk Railways. It is thus easily reached from all parts of the Dominion and the United States.”
Here is another transcript from the same publication:
“THE YOUNG LADIES’ COLLEGE.
The Brantford Young Ladies’ College (in connection with the Presbyterian Church of Canada) was organized March 24, 1874, and incorporated by Letters Patent, dated Sept. 16, 18/4, with an authorized capital of $60,000. A public meeting was held in the City Council Chamber on the 24th March, 1874—Rev. Wm. Cochrane, DD., in the chair—to consider the advisability of establishing such an institution. Several prominent gentlemen of the city favoured the undertaking, and the following resolutions were unanimously carried : ” That in the opinion of this meeting it is highly desirable that a Ladies’ College be established in Brantford ; that it is desirable that as a guarantee of the educational and moral training of the pupils, said College should be in connection with one of the Evangelical denominations; and that as the Episcopal, the Methodist and the Baptist Churches have already successfully established such institutions in Ontario, it is considered advisable that the said College should be in connection with the Presbyterian Church.” A committee was appointed, with Mr. A. Robertson as chairman, to give effect to the above resolution, and on the 12th May following the College was formally organized, with the following as the first Board of Directors:—A. Robertson, Manager Bank of British North America, President; H. W. Brethour, Vice-President; James Ker, Treasurer; B, F. Fitch, Secretary’; Wm. Watt, Senr., Rev. Wm. Cochrane, Alex. Robertson (Brant Avenue), George H. Wilkes, and Thomas McLean.
The handsome residence and grounds of the late Hon. E. B. Wood, Chief Justice of Manitoba, were purchased for College purposes, and the building extended so as to give suitable accommodation for about eighty’ boarders, at a cost of about $50,000. The inscription stone of the building was laid by Her Excellency, the Countess of Dufferin, on the 24th August, 1874, and the College was formally opened in the following October. The first Principal was Wm. Clarke, MD. He was succeeded by Rev. A. F. Kemp, MA., LLD., who was followed in 1878 by the present Principal, T. M. MacIntyre, MA., LLB. For several years the Rev. Wm. Cochrane, MA., DD., who took a very active part in the founding of the College, was associated with the staff as President of the Faculty.
The College is now well established and equipped, and both in its literary course and in the departments of music and fine arts, it has taken first rank as an institution for the higher education of ladies. The literary course extends over three years, and students completing their course satisfactorily are awarded diplomas. The usual examinations are conducted by outside examiners appointed by the Board of Directors; and since 1879 the University of Toronto has held local examinations in the College for students who prepare themselves for the University groups of study. During the past four years twenty-five young ladies have passed this satisfactory test of scholarship. His Excellency the Governor-General gives annually a silver medal for competition in the University studies, and the College was visited in 1880 by the Marquis of Lorne and Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise. On that occasion the Princess presented the Governor’s medal to the successful candidate. The session now m progress is the most prosperous in the history of the College; Students are attracted to it from all parts of the Dominion, from British Columbia to Nova Scotia and from the United States. The following is the present Board of Directors: President, A. Robertson, Manager Bank of British North America; Vice-President, William Buck; Secretary, H. B. Leeming ; Treasurer, Thomas McLean; William Watt, Wm. Nichol, MD., Robert Henry, Charles B. Heyd, and George Foster; Visitor and Honorary Director, Rev. Wm. Cochrane, DD.”
[Source: The History Of The County Of Brant, Warner Beers & Company, Toronto, 1883, pp. 203-204. My thanks to David Pease for supplying scans of this 1883 publication.]
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