Mount St. Bernard School of Pottery established 1938 offered instruction in history of pottery, preparation of clay, modelling techniques, special finishes and use of the potter’s wheel. Mother St. Philip, Congregation of Notre Dame, from PEI), the original director of the school, and known as the “mad potter” shared her knowledge and artistic ability. Mother St. Philip was attuned to the creative economy, making large moulds for volume production and sales. She would sculpt pipers and Highland Dancers, hand-painting each tartan. Anne Marie Chisholm attended the School of Pottery and reports that she witnessed Judy Laidlaw sculpting the Father Tompkins bust, chosen because her father Alex Laidlaw was active in the cooperative movement. She also remembers that Mother St. Philip was always experimenting and this particular bust was moulded first in clay and then in a rubber mould.
Judy’s father, Alex Laidlaw, worked with Fr. Moses Coady and the StFX Extension Department as part of the Antigonish Movement from 1944 to 1956.
Email message of June 15, 2014 from Judy (Laidlaw) Hines, now living in Ottawa:
If I can find the old photo I will be able to tell, but I presume it was taken by my father who was also a photographer, amongst other things. However, we have moved from the large family home we occupied for 35 years, into a condo and some of the millions (or so it seems) of boxes have not as yet been emptied. When I unearth the bust, I will be happy to send you a picture of it.
The most unusual thing in the photo is not about me but Mother St. Philip wearing her veil as she never, never, wore it in the pottery school.
Email message later on June 15, 2014
As to my father’s photos: I have given lots of photos and even albums to the Chestico Museum in Port Hood because my father was proud to be from Port Hood and indeed his first job after graduating from St.F.X was Principal of the Port Hood Academy.
I gave any photos I had from Dad’s days at the Extension Department to the Coady Institute.
In addition, when Dad died in 1980 Mom gave all his papers (and they measured in meters high) to the National Archives.
Newspaper clipping “The Mad Potters of Sydney Mines Find Fame”