Items of historical significance are housed in Heritage Place and on display throughout the Motherhouse and in local communities.
Organized in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the Congregation in 2000, Heritage Place provides a historical overview of the Marthas' first century. The centre houses photographs and biographies of Congregation leaders (General Superiors) and a description of how the Congregation is governed. The initial formation in 1900 was under the direction of the Bishop of the Antigonish Diocese and the priests of St. Francis Xavier University. The Congregation became Pontifical upon approval of constitutions received in the 1940s.
Canadian social developments and the response of the Canadian church, as well as the social philosophy of the Antigonish Diocese and St. Francis Xavier University, continues to influence the history of the Congregation. The parallel histories of the Congregation, church and society are a most revealing story of the social consciousness of the Sisters of St. Martha and the evolution of its ministries. The major source for this history is the unpublished work by Sister Irene Doyle, Heritage of the Sisters of St. Martha (1967). Sister Irene and Sister Simone Roach updated this work to the year 2000 and divided it into three periods: 1900-1930, 1931-1960 and 1961-2000. Historians Dr. Raymond MacLean and Dr. James Cameron, along with theologian Rev. R.B. MacDonald supplemented the material.
Other objects of historical significance to the Marthas are a collage of the 15 founding women, memorabilia of Bishop John Cameron, representations of traditional works enveloping household management, teaching, health care and social work. Furniture, paintings, crafts, embroidery and successive changes in the habits worn by the sisters are also displayed. Heritage Place also displays two stained glass windows from St. Josephs Hospital, Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.
The most valuable artifact in Heritage Place is the original altar, received from St. Francis Xavier University and restored and installed December 2001. Dating back to 1897, the altar was originally located in the first motherhouse on campus until a subsequent chapel was established at Morrison Hall. Through the initiative of Dr. J.H. Gillis, the altar was set up for the private use of priests living on campus.
As the Sisters of St. Martha look forward to a new home for its rich history, Heritage Place will continue to function as a museum. However, displays will not be on rotation.
Updated November 2016.