Attractions to discover, August 21, 2023 2023-08-21
Sanctuaire Sainte-Marguerite-d’Youville
Photo credit: Sanctuaire Sainte-Marguerite-d’Youville

Many of the women who played a crucial role in the history of Quebec society were also known for their connection to religious orders. Their contribution is indisputable and can be seen in many fields, such as education and healthcare, as well as in the ways they helped the less fortunate. The Quebec Religious and Spiritual Tourism Association invites you to discover their journeys through inspiring museums and exhibitions.

Marguerite d’Youville, the first Canadian-born saint

This kind-hearted woman left her mark not only on the history of Varennes and Montreal, but also on that of social services in Canada. The Sainte-Marguerite-d'Youville Sanctuary, located in her hometown in the Montérégie region, presents Marguerite and her Influence, a new temporary exhibition highlighting the six Grey Nuns’ communities and their major achievements. Inspired by their founder, Marguerite d’Youville, the Grey Nuns created hundreds of institutions across the country, including hospitals, orphanages, retirement homes and schools.

The Ursulines, a religious order devoted to girls’ education

If you're interested in the history of this order, you'll love the Musée des Ursulines de Trois-Rivières. Through guided tours, you'll learn that they founded the city's first school for girls and its first hospital. The exhibition Nuns, Teachers and… Scientists, presented until April 7, 2024, shows how the Ursulines created programs to teach botany, physics and mineralogy, among other subjects. Who said science in the 19th century was only for men?

In Québec City, the Pôle culturel du Monastère des Ursulines is also a great place to learn more about this religious order. The permanent exhibition The Young Ladies Academy: A pedagogical revolution shows how they made a major contribution to the development of Quebec schools, creating establishments where all fields of study were encouraged. At a time when women were often ostracized from society, they taught their boarders to be well-educated, critical thinkers.

Marguerite Bourgeoys, Montreal’s first teacher

Founder of Montreal's first school and of the Congregation of Notre Dame, this audacious and tenacious woman welcomed immigrants and forged respectful ties with the First Nations, leaving Quebec a priceless legacy. The Marguerite Bourgeoys Historic Site in Montreal presents, among other things, the permanent exhibition Meet Marguerite, which pays tribute to her through a thematic tour that includes an archaeological site and an 18th-century stone vault.

Jeanne Mance, a key figure in Montreal’s history

Sharing an acknowledgment as co-founder of Montreal along with Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Jeanne Mance was also the founder of the city's first hospital. At the Musée des Hospitalières de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal, you can immerse yourself in the history of Jeanne Mance and the nuns of the Hospitallers of Saint Joseph by visiting the exhibition Exploring a hospital heritage. Witness the evolution of medicine and the role of nurses and learn about the health crises that affected Montreal.

Musée des Hospitalières de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal
Photo credit: Musée des Hospitalières de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal
Le Monastère des Augustines
Le Monastère des Augustines. Photo credit: André-Olivier Lyra

The Augustinian Sisters, caring for the sick for more than 375 years

The Augustinian Monastery in Québec City is the place to explore the history of this order that created the first hospital on the continent, north of Mexico: the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec. Recounting the evolution of the Augustinians' spiritual and social commitment through the ages, the permanent exhibition Augustinian Sisters: Healing Body and Soul, presents their work caring for the sick as well as their community’s way of life, thanks to objects selected from the collection of 50,000 artifacts from the Augustinian Sisters’ 12 monastery hospitals.

To complement your visit of the exhibition, stop off at the Centre Catherine-de-Saint-Augustin, located in the historic church of the Augustine Monastery. This place of spirituality is dedicated to the memory of this Augustinian nun, whose responsibilities included caring for the sick and for the nursing staff at Hôtel-Dieu de Québec. It's a wonderful opportunity to learn about this woman that members of the First Nations called "Iakonikonriiostha", which means “she who beautifies the soul and makes the heart warmer”.

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