Dundas Wesleyan Institute

In 1872, the Wesleyan Institute, a Methodist group, purchased the property for  the education of boys and young men. The school, named the Dundas Wesleyan Institute or the Wesleyan Boys’ Institute opened by 1874. It provided boarding facilities, and initially housed 60 boys. By 1874, the enrolment had reached 122, 110 of whom were boarders. Prominent citizens were on the school’s board, including Grafton family members and William Binkley. Students enrolled there included such figures as Col. J.J. Grafton and Clifford Sifton, a cabinet member in the Laurier government.

Boarders came from throughout Canada and the United States, and from as far away as Texas and California. Many  apparently were the sons of Methodist pastors. Indeed, there were claims that  ministers’ sons were admitted for reduced fees or none at all.

The students attended service at the nearby St. Paul’s church each Sunday. They were said to have  had altercations with local boys. The Dundas Star described them as a  “lively lot”, who had  “many arguments with the town boys”. As well, there were also reports of some of the students vandalizing the school, doing such things stealing the school bell from its tower, and breaking through the dormitory walls, apparently in defiance of nightly curfews.

In the end, according to Picturesque Dundas Revisited, the boys’ conduct became intolerable, so the trustees closed the institute in 1878. In 1879, the property was sold to Rev. Father McNulty for the Sister of St. Joseph.

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