"In the quiet stillness of a beautiful spring Sunday afternoon on the Canadian prairie, members of the Clergy, Christian Brothers, Reverend Sisters, students and former students of St. Joseph's College, Mayor Chas. A. Peaker and members of the City Council, together with citizens generally gathered on the campus of St. Joseph's College before a beautiful little park to dedicate this "spot of beauty" as a lasting memorial to the memory of the late Brother Stanislaus, former director of the Catholic Ukrainian College which he had served faithfully from the time of its inception in 1919 until the time of his death two years ago."
With that passage, the May 23, 1940 edition of Yorkton Enterprise described the dedication of Brother Stanislaus Memorial Park on May 19, 1940.
The "lasting memorial," however, became neglected and abandoned following the closing and sale of St. Joseph's in 1973.
"Over the course of time, the landscape has changed and the history almost forgotten," said Edward Lischynski, president of the St. Joseph's College Alumni Association (SJCAA).
In May 2012, the City of Yorkton subdivided the land where the college and park once stood for residential development. At the same time, the City set aside a strip of land between the new housing development and the former St. Joseph's site as a municipal buffer (green space). The SJCAA successfully lobbied Council to designate that green space Brother Stanislaus Greenway.
"We appreciate that the grounds of St. Joseph's College will be used for housing once again, however, St. Joseph's College Alumni Association thinks that the historical significance of these grounds, and the man that had such a profound impact on our community, should be formally recognized," Lischynski said.
In late 2012, the SJCAA announced it had received a $6,000 grant from the Government of Saskatchewan Community Initiatives Fund to help with the relocation and restoration of Brother Stanislaus Memorial Park.
"I am really excited to have the financial support to help us honour our early builders in a manner they deserve," Lischynski said. "To restore the Greenway may take a few years. For 2013, we have planned to erect a cairn, interpretive markers, concrete picnic tables and benches, planters, pathways and signs."
Brother Stanislaus Joseph, or Brother Stan, as he was commonly known, was born Edward Ambrose O'Reilly on March 7, 1892 at Ayton, Ontario, a village approximately 120 kilometres west-northwest of Toronto.
In 1909, at the age of 17, he entered the novitiate of the Christian Brothers in Toronto. After a two-year "period of formation"—basically religious studies—in Toronto and Montreal, he attended teacher's college at the Toronto Normal School graduating in 1915.
Brother Stanislaus taught for four years in Toronto before being appointed to the staff at St. Joseph's in 1919. From 1923 to 1929, he served as director of the college. During the 1929-1930 school year he did post-graduate studies in Belgium, but returned to St. Joseph's the following year where he served as vice-principal until his sudden and unexpected death on April 29, 1938.
His funeral mass was held in Yorkton, April 30 before his remains were returned to Ontario for interment in the Cemetery of the Christian Brothers at Aurora.
By all accounts, Brother Stanislaus was beloved, not just by faculty and students of the college, but as a member of the community at large.
"A man he was of fine scholarship and quiet dignity, of clever appearance and pleasing personality; a gentleman in the best sense of the term," said the Yorkton Enterprise on May 5, 1938. "Possessed of a bright and cheerful disposition, never did we see his equanimity seriously perturbed."
He also had quite a reputation for business acumen according to the newspapers of the day.
The new memorial park will go beyond memorializing Brother Stanislaus, Lischynski said.
"Not only do we want to honour and pay tribute to Brother Stanislaus, but we also plan to honour the early pioneers for their financial contribution and support, and also the 92 Christian Brothers who taught in the college [and a] special tribute to the college as an educational institution that has made a major difference in the lives of thousands of graduates."
The SJCAA plans to start work on the restoration in May.