More History of Albert House Inn – Rosary Hall

We continue to delve into the past of our Inn and recently found some more history of Albert House when it was known as Rosary Hall from 1932 until 1968.

In October of 1932 the Sisters of Service, an Order founded by Catherine Donnelly,  established Rosary Hall at 478 Albert Street.  “She became convinced that only dedicated Sisters living with and among the people would enable them to remain faithful to their Catholic and Christian heritage. Her inspiration led to the founding of a new Canadian Catholic Women’s Religious Order. The Sisters of Service were founded in Toronto in 1922. They were to dedicate their lives to the care of these newcomers, helping them to remain faithful to their Catholic heritage.

Catherine’s gift was a holistic approach to life and mission, seeing the spiritual, social and cultural needs of all people and a way of being church where the church was not present. The Sisters would live in small groups, in scattered settlements being the ministering church for those most in need. To carry out their mission, the Sisters of Service taught in public schools with a strong emphasis on home visiting, operated small rural hospitals, taught religion by mail, provided immigration services at the ports of entry to Canada and established hostels in the major cities across Canada”.

The work of the Sister’s at Rosary Hall  was to be with overseas girls, principally those engaged in domestic work.  A social club was organized and an employment service was established.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, immigration ceased and young ladies from all over Canada came to Ottawa for employment.  Rosary Hall offered a place to live and make friends and the Sister’s helped these young women move towards independent living. The girls, usually two to a room, had to make their own beds, look after their own things and do their laundry.  Room and board was $17 a week.

The Sisters were apparently quite friendly and neighbourhood children living in nearby apartment buildings asked permission to bury their pets in the back yard of the Hall.  We believe the yard extended right through to Slater Street.

In the years following the end of the war, Rosary Hall offered its services to girls from seventeen to twenty one who came to the city to work and also offered housing to students taking short courses.

Occasionally guests staying with us have mentioned that they know of women who stayed at the Hall and several years ago we had many ladies tour the Inn after a reunion at St. Patrick’s Basilica.  They told us with great delight of their time spent at Rosary Hall, of the dances that were held here and the mischief they got into.

We are enjoying our twenty-seventh year as custodians of this wonderful old building and continue to discover new aspects of its history which we will share with you.

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Albert House Inn