Caring for a Colony. The Story of Jeanne Mance by Joanna Emery

By Joanna Emery

This is a narrative of pioneering braveness and compassion within the New international. Jeanne dreamed of devoting her existence to taking care of others. In 1641, she courageously gave up her cozy middle-class existence in France to trip to the French colonies, modern-day province of Quebec. In overcoming outstanding hardships, massacres, sickness, deprivation and 7 gruelling journeys around the ocean, Jeanne proved to be a amazing chief. She ended up founding the 1st medical institution in Montreal in addition to being a pioneer and founding father of town of Montreal.

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The new buildings became the heart of Ville-Marie. Attached to a chapel, the two-storey stone and wood building was separated into two wards on the ground floor, six beds for the men and two for the women. A fireplace at each end served for both cooking and warmth, while Sister Brésoles used one corner for a small apothecary. The Sisters slept in a small room divided into tiny “cells” on the top floor. Each morning, they ducked to avoid the damp linens hung throughout their quarters to dry and quietly descended the twenty-two steps to the patients’ floor.

Many houses in Montreal resembled small stone fortresses. To protect against raids, slits were built into the walls so the colonists could shoot through them. Jeanne very quickly took on a position of authority within the colony, helping over the winter to administer provisions to both the soldiers and the colonists, even taking charge of the military stores. The soldiers were building wooden barracks which would later be transported to the new colony at Ville-Marie. The colonists and the soldiers alike respected her and obeyed her as if they were children.

After cleaning it up, Marguerite hired men to install a chimney and repair the roof. A sleeping area was made out of the former dovecote (a shelter for doves and pigeons) under the roof, while the lower rooms were used for the school and living quarters. On April 30, 1658, three girls and five boys attended the first class in Ville-Marie. The once deserted building soon became a busy home, where new settlers were welcomed, children learned, and various meetings were held. CANADA’S SAINT Marguerite established the Congregation of Notre-Dame.

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