Villa Maria (school)
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In 1795, James Monk, Chief Justice of Lower Canada, purchased an estate in Montreal that had previously belonged to the Décarie family. The first Monk residence, built in 1803, was the central section of the present-day Villa Maria.
Sir James Monk willed the property known as ‘Monklands’ to his niece, Elizabeth Ann Monk. In 1844, the family leased Monklands to the Crown as a residence for the Governors General of Canada. Modifications were made to create a more imposing residence.
Three Governors General, Sir Charles Metcalfe, Lord Cathcart and Lord Elgin, resided at Monklands. After Lord Elgin signed a bill that would help the French population (innocent French people's homes were burnt down and ravaged during British raids and Lord Elgin wanted to grant them money and necessary house objects so they could rebuilt their homes), some British extremists came to burn down Lord Elgin's home, which at the time was what we know today as Villa Maria. However, because this year in 1849 Lady Elgin was bearing a child, the rebels decided to burn down the government building in Montreal instead. Shortly after, Lady Elgin gave birth to a son Victor Bruce, the future Viceroy of India, in a second floor room overlooking the driveway. When the Governor Generals' presence were no longer needed in Montreal, due to the displacement of the Government building, Monklands was sold, and turned into a country hotel for five years.
Monklands is one of the oldest remaining Palladian-style villas in Canada. Because of its excellent state of conservation and the historic importance of its various occupants, it was declared a National Historic Site in 1951.
The third phase of the building’s history began in 1854 when the Congrégation de Notre-Dame purchased the estate to open a boarding school. They called it Villa Maria. Although some people believe the name is Latin for Ville Marie, which was Montreal's original name when first settled, it actually translates to "House of Mary". The school stopped boarding students in 1966 and now services young women of Montreal, and surrounding areas from the ages 12–17 (or grades 7-11 according to Quebec Education levels).