Calvary Ryde Retirement Community – Our Rich Heritage

Many of Calvary’s Retirement Communities have rich and colourful histories that have contributed to making our sites the unique places they are today. Calvary Ryde Retirement Community, in Sydney NSW, has a special place in the history of Calvary and the Little Company of Mary, as it was the second formal facility the LCM Sisters established following their arrival in Australia in 1885.

The Honourable Thomas Dalton (a Knight Commander of St George, KCMG and successful businessman) offered to Cardinal Moran, the then Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, 27 acres at Ryde and a commitment to build a two storey villa to establish a place of care for women who suffered from mental and nervous disorders.

Cardinal Moran approached the Little Company of Mary Sisters and permission was granted by Mary Potter to accept the challenge of establishing this facility. Thomas Dalton laid the foundation stone on December 8, 1891. The building was blessed by the Cardinal and declared open for use on April 3, 1892. This building is still in use today as Dalton House which houses the Administration Offices and serves as the communal area for the Dalton Gardens Independent Living Unit residents.

Thomas Dalton also paid for two Sisters to do their mental health training overseas. While awaiting their arrival, three LCM Sisters took up residence in the new building in Ryde, caring for sick and dying people in their homes.

This new hospital was named Mt St Margaret’s. This was in memory of Mr Dalton’s wife Margaret, and also in honour of St Margaret of Scotland, as the Sisters had completed their psychiatric training in Scotland. A licence to operate the facility was granted on September 12, 1893 and the first patient was received in April 1894.

Over the years, a large Chapel and Convent were added as well as a Nurses home and a training school. In 1991, after nearly one hundred years, the license as a private psychiatric hospital was surrendered and the current retirement community as we know it began to take shape.