Historic Sites of Manitoba: Scheppers Agricultural College / Sacred Heart College (Swan Lake, Municipality of Lorne)
In early 1920, members of the Our Lady of Mercy monastic order, newly arrived from Belgium, purchased farm land from George H. Couch near the village of Swan Lake in the Rural Municipality of Lorne. Their plan was to establish an educational college for Catholic farm boys. A two-storey brick and stone building measuring 148 feet (45 meters) long and 82 feet (25 meters) wide, designed by St. James engineer Armand J. Boissonneau, was built later that year by St. Boniface contractor Firmin Wyndels, at a cost of some $70,000. Known informally as Scheppers College, for the Order’s founder Victor Scheppers (1802-1877), it was formally named the Sacred Heart College (Collège du Sacré Coeur). Consecrated by Archbishop Arthur Beliveau of St. Boniface, it opened for classes in October 1920 with Brother Mathieu as Principal.
Over the next dozen years, the facility offered instruction to local and boarding students, in English and French, in academic and agricultural subjects. Eventually, agricultural classes and instruction in French were phased out. Enrollment dropped in the late 1920s and the college closed permanently in October 1932. The Brothers were transferred to Huberdeau, Quebec, taking some of the college’s equipment with them and selling the rest. The building sat vacant for several years before being demolished in 1939. Vestiges of its concrete foundation remain at the site.
“Brothers of Mercy at Swan Lake are building college,” Manitoba Free Press, 16 March 1920, page 14.
Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.
“Belgian college is near completion,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 August 1920, page 5.
George H. Couch Land Grants [SE/SW30-5-10W], Land Grants of Western Canada, 1870-1930, Library and Archives Canada.
Scheppers College, Rootsweb.
We thank Monica Ball, Karen Letourneau, Theresa Early, and David Falconer for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 9 April 2019
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