THE BRENNAN STORY
Brennan Hall was built in 1939, one of the last works of the eminent Canadian ecclesiastical architect, Arthur William Holmes. Within one building at St Michael's College it housed a kitchen, refectories, bedrooms, meeting rooms and in due course, the COOP. As the two women's colleges, Loretto and St Joseph's, had their own facilities and dining rooms, the dining hall above "Lower Brennan" was an exclusively male preserve. Lower Brennan was the main social centre, and the original terrazzo flooring of the southern part was recently revealed for the first time in almost half a century.
Lower Brennan housed the COOP when that facility was moved from Carr Hall, where it had occupied the bottom floor opposite the auditorium now Father Madden Hall. All of this reflected the expansion of the College in the immediate post-war years, and the attempt to cater to the needs not only of residents, but also to the "day hops" commuting students who were much the larger contingent.
With further expansion of the St George campus in the 1960's more radical change ensued. In 1967, the St Michael's project to mark the centenary of Canadian Federation was the extension and refurbishing of Brennan Hall. The principal undertaking was the addition of the stuccoed extension on the north side of Brennan, including enlarged and improved kitchen facilities, a new home for student offices and the COOP, as well as a large auditorium, now the Sorbara Auditorium.
The then Bursar, Father Norman Iversen C.S.B. redecorated Upper Brennan dining hall, carpeted the floor, and placed standards with the flags of each of the provinces along the interior wall, and a Canadian flag in the centre. A fine coat-of-arms of Canada dominated the wall at the east end. He named it the "Canada Room" to commemorate Confederation, and his original sign with that name is still in place above the east doorway. The carpeting however, concealed a full terrazzo floor and, at its centre, a fine, decorative emblem of St Michael's original coat of arms.
The "Canada Room" plaque is now almost all that remains of the 1967 scheme. The only other elements are the wooden screens inside the doorway of the Senior Common Room and between the so-called "Priests' Dining Room" and the kitchen. In 1983 this scheme was replaced. The College was host to the General Assembly of the International Federation of Catholic Universities, a NGO recognized by the Holy See that holds consultative status with UNESCO and the Council of Europe. For that significant occasion the then President, Father Peter Swan C.S.B. introduced the oak panels in the Canada Room, and replaced the 1967 scheme much as we see it today.
James McConica, csb President of USMC, 1984-1990
Learn more about St.Mike's Convocation Mace here.