Students of Sion Academy in the 1920s; the school was operated by the Sisters of Sion in Saskatoon from 1919 to 1967. A reunion of former students is planned to mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of Sion in the community.
SASKATOON — The Friends of Sion are planning a reunion of all former students of Sion Academy to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of Sion in Saskatoon. The reunion will be held on the 2017 Labour Day weekend at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.
“The Sisters of Sion have generously made a huge contribution to Catholic education in our city and in the lives of their students. We want to honour and celebrate them. We are all getting older, as are our much-loved teachers, and this will probably be the last general reunion of our academy,” said Elaine Zakreski, a Sion alumna and chair of The Friends of Sion.
On Aug. 21, 1917, a story in the Saskatoon Daily Star announced the arrival to the city of the Sisters of Sion. “The large white house on the corner of Spadina Crescent and 21st Street is undergoing a complete renovation,” stated the article. “Altogether, the appearance of the house has been so greatly improved it simply had to have a name, so the sisters have named it Rosary Hall.”
By 1919, the sisters had acceded to a request from the Catholic community to open a boarding school for girls. The Star reported on Aug. 22 that the sisters would open their school on Sept. 9, 1919, for girls in Grades 1 - 6. “The convent is beautifully located in the former Drinkle property on the slope of Caswell Hill. It is a large brick residence, with extensive grounds, shade trees, wide verandahs (sic) and every modern convenience,” the newspaper reported.
The school flourished, so that by 1923 a stucco annex was built to accommodate the growing enrolment, and in 1926 a large brick building was constructed, which was named The Academy of Our Lady of Sion. The academy operated as a private school until 1967.
Through the years, the Sisters of Sion assumed major roles in providing instruction in catechism throughout the diocese, starting in 1920 in the Nutana area of Saskatoon. When St. Joseph’s School opened, the Sisters of Sion were asked to take charge. From that day, members of the community formed part of the staff in many of Saskatoon’s separate schools.
Every year from 1934 to 1963 the sisters operated a summer catechism school for about 200 students who were housed at the academy. In 1937 sisters started to accompany priests to their Sunday missions to teach the children after mass. After 1963 some of the sisters went to various parishes to give classes. Sion Academy was also used to house the bishop and his clergy for their annual retreats. For several years the CWL held their retreats at the convent.
Planning the reunion for September 2017 is difficult because it is hard to find former students. “Most Sionians married and changed their names, and that added to the fact that the youngest of our alumnae are now 68 years old makes finding everyone a huge task,” said committee member Eleanor Kennedy.
Those who may know someone who attended Sion Academy between 1919 and the final graduation in 1967 are urged to contact the committee, added Marikay Falby. Contacts can be found online at http://www.sionreunion2017.org/