Information on early history of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish and School
Source: Historical records Immaculate Heart of Mary Church.
The History of Immaculate Heart of Mary
On August 13, 1952, a meeting of the householders and freeholders residing in the School Section No. 1 Saltfleet held a meeting to establish a Roman Catholic School Zone. A board of trustees was duly elected and proceeded toward construction of a new school.
Land was purchased from Senator E.D. Smith of Winona by his Excellency Bishop Joseph F. Ryan. Reverend Father Godfrey Wolf of the Order Friars Minor Conventuals became pastor of the new parish and took charge of the building of the new school.
On July 13, 1953, ground was broken for the school and the Felician Order of Nuns were secured for teaching services. Sister M. Demaise became the first principal of the two-room school with an enrolment of 25 students from Grades 1 to 4 and 18 pupils registered for Grades 5 to 8.
On December 7, 1953, the principal, staff and students moved into the new school that was blessed by Bishop Ryan. The First Holy Communion class of 1954 had 5 boys and 5 girls receiving the Holy Sacrament.
As the community grew, two new rooms were built in 1956 with a Kindergarten programme introduced in 1959. In 1960, a further extension of two rooms was completed, followed by three more classrooms and a gymnasium in 1963. In 1968, the fifth and final building addition was completed which consisted of four classrooms and a library.
By the early 1970’s, the population of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School approached 300 students and the numbers remained that way until the 1980’s Limited building in the largely rural area meant that enrolment would decline such that in the late1980’s, a population of 142 students brought about discussion of closing the school.
The next few years brought about many changes as a housing boom in Winona added many new families. The school was filled to capacity by 1999 and portables started to arrive. By 2003, five portables were on site and the student population topped 450. In 2004, a six-pack portable arrived to give the school a population of 565 in the 2005-2006 school year.
Exciting news reached the community in May of 2004 as the Hamilton Catholic District School Board announced that a new 53,000 square foot school would be built beside the new Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. Completion of the new school was in the fall of 2006 and the students have been enjoying it ever since.