History of Belcourt Center
In 1882, the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame opened on the site of Belcourt Center a Convent Boarding and Day School known as St. Augustine’s Convent. Here for more than eighty years, the girls and boys of this area and far beyond were educated in mind, body, and spirit with the thoroughness characteristic of the daughters of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys.
In 1932, the original convent was destroyed by fire, but a new one of the same design was immediately built and the Sisters continued their dedicated service here until modern school consolidation and bus transportation made boarding schools unnecessary or unpopular.
After several transfers of ownership, the convent building was purchased in 1977 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlottetown for a Retreat House and Renewal Center. From 1981 to 2004 it was administered by the Sisters of St. Martha of Charlottetown who resided at Belcourt Center and assisted in various programs. From 2004 to the present Mrs. Bernice Doucette (affectionately dubbed Sister Bernice) has administered Belcourt Center and continues the welcoming warm homelike atmosphere that was established by Sister Bernice Cullen, Sister Rose Setter and the many other Marthas that lived and served at Belcourt.
The name Belcourt Center was chosen to honor the memory of Rev. Antoine— Georges Belcourt, pastor of Rustico from 1859 to 1869. Father Belcourt was a zealous and innovative priest whose achievements here and elsewhere have written a remarkable page in the history of the Church in America.
In Rustico, he established the Farmers’ Bank, the forerunner of the Credit Union in North America, set up a parish library, started a High School in his house and secured books from France autographed by Louis Napoleon III, organized an adult study club, a choir and a band. He also put together the first horseless [steam] carriage in Canada. Fr. Belcourt subsequently was involved in the first car accident on PEI when his steam carriage did not respond to the horse command “Whoa” during the first demonstration drive at a parish picnic. Fortunately no lasting damage was done to cleric or onlookers.
The principal programs presently available through the Center are:
- Marriage Encounter Weekends
- Engaged Encounter Weekends
- Marriage Preparation Weekends
- Beginning Experience Weekends
- Vocation Discernment Retreats
Individuals or groups for any desired time: Retreats for; Priests, Married Couples, Single men and women, Youth, Mixed groups of men and women, Matt Talbot groups, etc.
Education and Formation
- Bible and study groups
- Prayer Days and training in prayer
- Free to be Me [Fr. John Powell]
- Teachers’ Workshop
- Music Camps
- Allied Youth workshops
- Personal direction in prayer and growth in Christian life.
Getting to Belcourt Center
From Charlottetown (Approx. 26 km.)
Follow Route 2 West via University Ave. [or N. River Rd. and Rt. 236] as far as Milton. Turn Right on Rt. 7 and follow that road as far as S. Rustico. [Note that road is Rt. 6 after you pass Oyster Bed Bridge village store). Immediately after passing Gallant’s Food Market turn Right on Rt. 243. Around turn, about 1 km., is Belcourt Centre.
From Summerside (Approx. 52 km.)
Follow Route 2 East as far as Hunter River. Turn left on Rt. 13 and follow through to New Glasgow. Turn right on Route 224, just cross the bridge and turn Left on Route 258. At end of Rt. 258, bear Right on Rt. 6 to South Rustico.
Just before Gallant’s Food Market turn Left on Rt. 243. Around turn of road, about 1 km., is Belcourt Center.
From Borden (Approx. 50 km.)
Follow Route 1 as far as Crapaud. Bear Left on Route 13, and follow that route through Hunter River to New Glasgow. Turn Right on Rt. 224, just cross bridge and turn left on Rt. 258. At end of Rt. 258, bear Right on Rt. 6 to South Rustico. Turn left on Rt. 243 to Belcourt Center.
Phone: (902) 963-2877