Holy Angels Convent was founded in 1885 at the request of Father James Quinan for the purpose of providing education to the young women of Cape Breton County. Holy Angels operated as the only all girls' educational institution east of Montreal since its founding. Holy Angels High School was known for its fine arts programming with instruction in music, drawing, sculpting, speech and drama.
The fonds consists of seven series: photographs, audiovisual recordings, textual records, Sister Rita Clare, the Marguerite Bourgeoys Centre, Centennial Celebrations, and Objects. The Collection is predominantly a photographic one, with over 3200 negatives, positives and prints spread over the seven series.
The audiovisual recordings include 136 items that relate to the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame, Holy Angels Convent, Holy Angels High School, the Cape Breton Chorale, the Holy Angels Chorale, the Cape Breton Youth Choir, and Sister Rita Clare. Sister Rita Clare's material includes images, concert programmes, scrapbooks, video tapes, audio reels, and audio cassettes documenting the activities of both the Holy Angels Chorale from 1962-1983, the Holy Angels Alumnae Choir (1985 - 2010), the Cape Breton Youth Choir (1988-1998).
In addition to the music program materials, there are other recordings relating to religious education and the activities of the Convent and School. The textual records consists of material connected to student and community activities in the Sydney area during the twentieth century; samples of student evaluations and compositions, graduation documents, the school newsletter, the Library's operational registers, and correspondence are included. The Collection also includes a number of objects that were donated to the Beaton Institute by Sisters of the CND and photographic and textual records related to the Marguerite Bourgeoys Centre and the Holy Angels Centennial Celebrations, which were held in 1985.
In 2009 the Congregation of Notre-Dame announced their intention to close the convent and sell the property in the historic Northend of Sydney. This closure brought an end to a 126 year history of pioneering in women's education in eastern Canada. The building has since been purchased and is now the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation.