1948.18 | The Law School

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
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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.

  • What

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

  • Where

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

  • When

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

  • Who

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