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This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
The Law School
Sister Agnes Berchmans
1939, 20th century
Oil on canvas
Bequest of the Right Honourable Richard Bedford, Viscount Bennett
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum

Keys to History:

Upon graduation from the Provincial Normal School in 1886 at the age of 16, Richard Bennett (1870-1947) received his first teaching post in Irishtown, just outside of Moncton, NB. At the age of 18, he moved north to Douglastown, NB, where he worked as a principal responsible for four schools, four teachers and some 140 pupils. He was paid $500 per year, half of which he saved. To Bennett's contemporaries, he was strict and disciplinarian as a teacher, yet conscientious and thorough. His temper occasionally flared, giving rise to a flurry of harsh, stinging words. Punishment included standing offending students in front of a window and requiring them to write a composition on what they saw outside. Pupils who obtained his respect, however, also won his friendship.

While in Douglastown, Bennett made the acquaintance of Lemuel Tweedie (1849-1917), then a prominent Conservative lawyer in nearby Chatham, NB, who later became premier and lieutenant-governor. Tweedie first offered Bennett part-time employment, which the young teacher readily accepted. Then, after recognizing his abilities and shaping his political beliefs, Tweedie offered Bennett a junior partnership if he could qualify for the Bar. In 1890 R.B. Bennett, after three years of saving, took a career risk and began attending the Law School at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS, graduating three years later.


The artist behind this painting, Sister Agnes Berchmans (1879-1973), produced over 500 paintings and murals during her lifetime.


Sister Agnes Berchmans once traveled to Florence, Italy, where she studied under the direction of the internationally known painter Filadelfo Simi (1849-1923).


According to R.B. Bennett's last will and testament, "friends in Halifax in January 1939" presented this painting to him.


The daughter of Dr. Alexander Landry and Geneviève Bourque Sister Agnes Berchmans was born Julia Alma Landry at Bouctouche, NB on December 7, 1879.

© Musée McCord Museum