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Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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QUINLAN, ANNE (1839-1923)

QUINLAN, ANNE, teacher and principal; b. Co. Tipperary, Ireland, 7 Jun c1839, d/o William Quinlan and h/w Susan; unmarried; d. Chatham, 18 Feb 1923.

The daughter of a shoemaker, "Annie" Quinlan came to New Brunswick with her parents as a small child. She attended Chatham schools, including the school taught by Davis P. Howe, and was trained as a teacher at the Normal School in Saint John. She claimed twenty-one years of teaching service in 1878, which implies that her career dated from 1857, when she was eighteen years old. She was teaching in Chatham by 1859, at least, with her younger sister Susan acting as her unpaid assistant. After Bishop James Rogers launched St Michael's male academy in 1861, using mostly seminarians as teachers, interest was expressed in the establishment of a parallel academy for girls. In 1862 Quinlan started to teach in "the large room of the Catholic Temperance Hall." Her school was attended by Catholic girls and was sometimes referred to as "St Michael's Female Academy," but it was officially a public school. When the customary public examinations were held, representatives of the Chatham school trustees were in attendance, along with the bishop, parents, and others. Unlike the seminarians, she was a licensed teacher who was entitled to claim an annual grant from the Assembly as long as she taught in the provincial system.

Quinlan's classroom work received nothing but commendation from her examiners. She ran a "very superior" school (1862) for about sixty girls, to which "too much praise [could] not be given" (1865). Of special interest were the musical concerts which she and her sister staged. In this period it was said that her pupils supplied music not only for school events but also at the church.

In 1871 Quinlan was co-opted by the Religious Hospitallers of St Joseph to help them establish a convent school at Chatham. Although the religious order sent Sister Cesarine Raymond from Montreal to be "directress of education," Quinlan was very much in charge of St Michael's Academy during the 1870s and 80s. The school was a continuation of the one she had conducted in the Catholic Temperance Hall, in which emphasis was placed on musical and theatrical performance as well as on the academic staples. When Lord Dufferin, the governor-general of Canada, paid a visit to Chatham on 16 July 1873 it was she and her pupils who were called upon to provide the necessary "musical and literary entertainment."

For many years Quinlan was the only member of the convent school staff who held a 1st class teacher's license. When an advanced department was created around 1880 she was head of it, with one of the nuns as her assistant. She was still in charge of the school in 1888, when there were six other teachers on the staff, three lay and three religious, but she had to retire soon afterwards for health reasons, at around age fifty.

Quinlan had "an incapacitating infirmity" which only her "truly Christian spirit" enabled her to bear with cheerful resignation for the last thirty years of her life. The illness did not exclude her entirely from the field of education. In 1896 she was appointed as one of the original school trustees of the newly-incorporated town of Chatham, and she served as such until 1900. In her later years, when she made her home at the Hotel Dieu Hospital, she was prevailed upon to tutor students privately, and her services were so much in demand that she continued to offer them until within a month of her death, at age eighty-three.

To the Miramichi Advance Quinlan was "a lady of no ordinary culture." To The World she was a woman "of singular nobility of character."


[b] census (day and month) [d] official records / Advance 15 Nov 1877; Advocate 31 Jan 1900; Fraser (C); Gleaner 24 Mar 1851, 19 May 1860, 22 Feb 1862, 29 Nov 1862, 1 Oct 1864, 8 Apr 1865, 30 Sep 1865; Hutchison's; Miramichi Press 9 Jul 1969; PANB (teachers' petitions); Quinlan biog. data; World 22 Apr 1882, 21 Feb 1923


There is a later sketch of Anne Quinlan, by W. D. Hamilton, in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Vol. XV, 2005.