Brodick Stewart takes a ride on therapeutic riding horse Phats. (Lisa Pink photo)

Brodick Stewart takes a ride on therapeutic riding horse Phats. (Lisa Pink photo)

Sisters continue to be vital part of Therapeutic Riding

The CTRA grew to become a nationally-renowned equine assisted therapy organization

By Anne Muir

The Sisters of St. Ann played an important role in the history of the Cowichan Valley and B.C.

The congregation was founded in 1850 by Blessed Marie Anne Blondin in Vaudreuil, Quebec, and has served the Pacific Northwest since 1858. In 1864, the Sisters purchased 400 acres near Duncan, now known as Providence Farm.

The property was settled in 1867 and used primarily as a boarding and day school until 1964. The farm owes its name to one of these “pioneer” nuns, Sister Mary Providence.

In 1979, the Sisters played an integral role in the formation of the Vancouver Island Providence Community Association (VIPCA), an organization serving adults with developmental and age-related special needs.

Under the stewardship of this new initiative, Providence Farm became a secular therapeutic hub in the Cowichan Valley, home to several organizations including the Cowichan Folk Guild, School District 79’s Alternate School, and the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association (CTRA). In 2009, ownership of Providence Farm was officially transferred to VIPCA, to mark the organization’s 30th anniversary.

The CTRA was one of the first external organizations invited to become a tenant and community partner on Providence Farm. CTRA moved to the property in the late 1980s, and together with VIPCA (and thanks to the support of many contributors) built the Providence Farm Therapeutic Riding Centre. CTRA still operates out of this facility, working in symbiosis with the farm’s programs and other tenant organizations.

From humble beginnings, the CTRA grew to become a nationally-renowned equine assisted therapy organization recognized as an examination and training centre by the Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association.

CTRA is the only centre in Western Canada to hold this level of accreditation. These days, CTRA welcomes more than 100 participants with a wide range of special needs every week, running some 3,500 hours of therapeutic service every year.

Ever since CTRA first arrived on Providence Farm, the Sisters have contributed to the organization in one way or another. In recent years, the Sisters have continued their support through financial contributions to projects and programs.

In 2015, the Sisters helped CTRA complete their new outdoor riding arena — significantly enhancing the organization’s ability to keep pace with a growing user population. Since 2017, the Sisters have made annual grants to CTRA through the Esther’s Dream Fund (held by the Victoria Foundation). In 2018, the Sisters donated $12,000 to CTRA. These yearly contributions support CTRA’s equine-assisted therapeutic services and are essential to keeping CTRA’s services accessible for individuals and families with special needs.

“We are honoured to continue our partnership with the Sisters of St. Ann,” says Anne Muir, executive director for CTRA. “The Sisters have played a huge role in helping CTRA become the organization we are today.”

Sister Pat Donovan, vice president with the Sisters of St. Ann, says, “The Sisters believe that each person has the dignity of a child of God and deserves to have the opportunity to develop to her/his full potential. These same motivations impel the Sisters of Saint Ann today to provide resources to help individuals to attain the fullness of life and foster communities that support the dignity of all persons. The Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association enhances the lives of children and adults who are especially vulnerable.”

The Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association is open to the community daily. The public is encouraged to visit the facility, meet the horses, and check out the association — along with all the other programs and organizations that call Providence Farm home. Walking tour signs are placed throughout the farm’s grounds to help visitors make the connections between past and present, and better understand the Sisters of St. Ann’s legacy in our community.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Robert’s column
Robert Barron column: New hospital shouldn’t charge for parking

Paying a parking meter is the last thing people visiting a hospital should have to worry about.

A 3.0-magnitude earthquake occurred off Ucluelet just after 12:30 a.m. on April 10 and was reportedly felt as far south as Oregon. (Map via United States Geological Survey)
Quake off Ucluelet reportedly felt as far south as Oregon

Magnitude 1.5 earthquake also reported off Vancouver Island’s west coast hours earlier

Asparagus root, dug up from the old patch and ready to be transplanted. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Some tips on growing asparagus

When choosing asparagus I recommend buying male plants for juicier, plumper spears.

If you’re looking for a goat time, visit Russell Farms Market! (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: Looking for a goat time on Good Friday

If you drive by the farm market a little slower you see the goat pen.

The McCloskey-Hydro Rain Garden, located in a sunny Hydro corridor and receiving about 2.5 million litres of rainwater runoff per year from the roof of nearby McCloskey Elementary School. (Deborah Jones photo)
A&E column: From nature to poetry to puppets, there’s plenty afoot

What’s going on in the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment scene

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Most Read