First Annual Sophie Pemberton Tea August 10th in Victoria BC

First Annual Sophie Pemberton Tea August 10th in Victoria BC.

Can you imagine packing up everything and leaving the cloistered life you’d known to set off, in faith, for the boundless wilderness of British Columbia in 1858? Yet, that’s exactly what four Sisters of St Ann and one lay woman did when they arrived in Victoria at the behest of Bishop Modeste Demers to set up a school and care for the sick.  Most were francophone (Victoria included a sizeable francophone population at the time) and were leaving behind their culture as well.

Growing up in Victoria, most of us are familiar with the “old” St Joseph’s Hospital Building and the-now National Historic Site, St Ann’s Academy, restored in the 1990s after falling into dis-use and dis-repair.  The beautiful orchard will be the site of the first annual Sophie Pemberton Tea, a Victoria-Themed Tea Party to honour both the Sisters of St Ann, and Sophie Pemberton, who was a cultural icon during this period, as well as a painter.

Guests are encouraged to arrive in an approximation of the fashions of the period.  (My suggestion–rentals from the costume loft at Langham Court Theatre are affordable and provide a variety of options).

If you are unable to attend, I can highly recommend the bilingual historical tours of St Ann’s Academy that run throughout the summer (June through September) on Sundays—1pm in French, 2:30pm in English.

Sophie Pemberton Tea August 10th 2014

An Icon of Our Time – A Celebration Lifted from the Pages of Victoria’s History. 

Announcing the First Annual Sophie Pemberton Tea, a Victorian-Themed Tea Party in the Orchard of St. Ann’s Academy National Historic Site

The Mount St. Mary Hospital Foundation and the Society of Friends of St. Ann’s Academy are collaborating to celebrate the history of the Sisters of St. Ann – the service and new pathways they paved when in 1858 four Sisters and one lay woman had left all: their home, their culture, the Sisters and the community they lived in.  Together the Foundation and the Friends will host the First Annual Sophie Pemberton Tea to rejoice in and support in community the legacy of the Sisters of St. Ann and two of Victoria’s institutions they founded, St. Ann’s Academy and St. Joseph’s Hospital, now known as Mount St. Mary Hospital.  Naming the tea after Sophie Pemberton also pays homage to the contribution she brought as a woman to the cultural life of Victoria.

Chief Development Officer and Executive Director of Mount St. Mary Hospital Foundation, Kathleen Burton believes both Sophie Pemberton and the Sisters of St. Ann stepped outside traditional female roles in the second half of the 19th Century to excel in their fields. She looks forward to the fundraiser accommodating over 300 people and featuring a historic tea, fashion show and musical performance. The event is scheduled to take place on August, 10th 2014 in the orchard of St. Ann’s Academy National Historic Site, located in downtown Victoria.”

Executive Director of The Society of Friends of St. Ann’s Academy, Julie Cormier points out that Sophie Pemberton was chosen as an icon of her time because, in addition to her social position in the late Victorian era, she achieved prominence as a painter both locally and in the salons of Paris and London – a remarkable achievement for a woman in that era, and an inspiration to her contemporary, Emily Carr.

The event will encourage guests to arrive in an approximation of the fashions of the period and will feature Victorian-themed decorations, vintage china, music, and historic finger foods and tea. The Victorian Vogue will present a historic fashion show followed by a concert by Raven Baroque. Guests are invited to roam the grounds and explore the Interpretive Centre in the Academy where historic impersonators will engage guests. Other features include: traditional and historic games, door prizes, and more.

The First Annual Sophie Pemberton Tea
August 10, 2014 1-4pm.
Tickets are $35
Online at and
In person at Mount St Mary Hospital Foundation 861 Fairfield and St. Ann’s Academy, open daily from 10am to 4pm, at 835 Humboldt.
Group rates are available by calling 250.480.3139
Group of 10 $330 – $20 off ($2 rebate per person), Group of 20 $320 – $30 off ($3 rebate per person).


About Mount St. Mary Hospital Foundation

Mount St. Mary Hospital is a Catholic health organization dedicated to providing compassionate care to adults of all faiths who require long-term support. Mount St. Mary Hospital strives to create a home-like setting for its 200 residents.

The Mount St. Mary Hospital Foundation raises funds to pay for specialized equipment, resident activities, pastoral care, volunteer support and other life enhancing services not covered by Island Health.

About The Society of Friends of St. Ann’s Academy

The Society of Friends of St. Ann’s Academy is a non-profit charity that preserves and celebrates the social, cultural and educational heritage of St. Ann’s Academy while working in the public interest to develop the National Historic Site as a resource centre for the community of Victoria, BC.

Community events, projects and partnerships are ways we seek to preserve a vibrancy of Victoria’s heritage in the Francophone culture, women’s history and the beginning of education and health care in BC. The Society provides weekly historic tours and will host a Women and Leadership forum in October 2014.

About @lacouvee

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