House of Providence

Following the closure of the Dundas Wesleyan Institute, the property was purchased in 1879 by Reverend Father McNulty, who presented it to the Sisters of St. Joseph to use as a home. It first housed orphans and elderly men. Thereafter, to help cover operating costs, a yearly picnic, open to the public, was held on the grounds on Dominion Day. This event continued on until the early 1970s, when the House of Providence was replaced by St. Joseph’s Villa, a new building situated to the west.

The building was expanded for its new purpose. The former Coleman residence occupied the northeast corner, with a south wing and chapel added. Mother M.J. Sebastian was made superioress.

According to records, the first residents included elderly women placed there from St. Vincent’s Home in Hamilton, boys from St. Mary’s Orphanage, and asylum transfers. These residents, called “inmates”, were strictly segregated. Reports from an 1881 inspection listed 19 men, 46 women, and 73 boys. Eventually, the facility became a home exclusively for the elderly.

In 1882 a measles epidemic affected the home and some small children died. In that same year, Father McNulty, who had become a resident himself, died, and was buried on site.

In 1900, the original building burned down, and was replaced by a new one in 1902.

From the beginning, the home was set up to be self-sufficient. A barn and silo were built, as well as stables for cattle and horses, and produce was grown on the surrounding fields.

St. Joseph’s Villa, a much larger structure, was constructed to replace the House of Providence. It is immediately west of the old site, and opened in November 1970 with 350 beds. It has since been enlarged. The House of Providence was demolished. St. Joseph’s Estates, a condominium complex, now occupies the site.

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