Social Heritage


In the greater Montreal area, the list of the works of The Grey Nuns of Montreal is very long. For close to three centuries, the Grey Nuns have devoted themselves to the deprived and marginalized, those who have sometimes been called the poor, invalids, orphans, the ill. They have also founded major institutions such as Notre-Dame HospitalMaisonneuve-Rosemont HospitalThe Montreal Heart Institute, The Marguerite d’Youville Institute, The Nazareth Institute for the blind, and a large number of houses for the poor, orphans, the elderly and people with loss of autonomy, etc.  As of today, these institutions either have been closed or their administration has been transferred to the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

In 2003, Marguerite d’Youville was made a laureate of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame for her extraordinary contribution to the improvement of quality of life through the founding of around a hundred establishments: hospitals, schools, and community health organizations.

Works of the Grey Nuns (partial list) with year of founding

  • Beauharnois Hospice, Beauharnois, 1861
  • Châteauguay School, Châteauguay, 1883
  • Côte-des-Neiges School, Montreal, 1863
  • Couvent de Saint Conrad, Montreal East, 1951
  • Couvent Saint Benoît, Deux Montagnes, 1854
  • Home Economics School, Mother House, Montreal, 1905
  • Lajemmerais Home, Varennes, 1859
  • Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, Montreal, 1949
  • Marguerite d’Youville Institute, Montreal, 1934
  • Mgr Chaumont Institute, Montreal, 1957
  • Nazareth Institute, Montreal, 1861
  • Notre-Dame de l’Espérance Sanatorium, Sainte Agathe, 1914
  • Notre-Dame Hospital, Montreal, 1880
  • Patronage d’Youville, Montreal, 1895
  • Saint Antoine Hospice, Longueuil, 1876
  • Saint Antoine Hospice and Clothing Depot for the Poor, Montreal, 1904
  • Saint Charles Farm, Ville Saint Laurent, 1907
  • Saint Charles Hospice, Montreal, 1877
  • Saint Henri Hospice, Montreal, 1861
  • Saint Jérôme Hospice, St Jérôme, 1888
  • Saint Joseph Hospice, Montreal, 1853
  • Sainte Cunégonde Hospice, Montreal, 1889
  • The Montreal Heart Institute, 1950
  • The Radium Institute, Montreal, 1927


In Western Canada, the Grey Nuns opened a number of healthcare and educational institutions to respond to the many needs of the people of Winnipeg and Sainte Rose in Manitoba as well as of Esterhazy and Gravelbourg in Saskatchewan. These charitable works continue today in conjunction with new works that are responding to society’s changing needs.

Over the last few years, the Grey Nuns have set up corporations to manage the institutions they established in the past. Laypeople are now participating in the mission of the Grey Nuns in a spirit of collaboration and service.

Réseau Compassion Network, Manitoba

In 2000, The Grey Nuns of Manitoba transferred to the Réseau Compassion Network the property rights and the management of their healthcare charities, some of which had been in operation for more than a hundred years:

Sara Riel | Actionmarguerite | Résidence Despins | St.Amant | Youville Health Centre of
Saint Boniface | Saint Boniface General Hospital | Sainte Rose du Lac General Hospital.

The members of the Corporation are appointed by the Grey Nuns. The Board of Directors consists of fourteen members representing each of the institutions in the network.

Caritas Health Group, Edmonton (Covenant Health since 2009)

The Caritas Health Group is the largest supplier of health care in Alberta. The group was formed in 1992 through the merger of three hospitals, including the General Hospital of Edmonton, founded by the Grey Nuns; the Misericordia Community Hospital; the Grey Nuns Hospital and the Continuing Care Centre of the Edmonton General Hospital.

Manitoba (partial list with year of founding)

  • General Hospital of Saint Boniface, Winnipeg, 1871
  • St.Amant, Winnipeg, 1974
  • Saint Boniface Hospital Research Centre, Winnipeg, 1987
  • Sara Riel Inc., Winnipeg, 1977
  • Ste Rose General Hospital, Ste Rose du Lac, 1938
  • Actionmarguerite, Saint Boniface, 1883
  • Youville Centre, Winnipeg, 1984
  • Résidence Despins, Winnipeg, 1975

Saskatchewan (partial list with year of founding)

  • Regina Grey Nuns’ Hospital, Regina, 1907
  • Saint Anthony Hospital, Esterhazy, 1986
  • Saint Joseph Hospital, Gravelbourg, 1917
  • Saint Marguerite Hospital, Biggar, 1923
  • Saint Paul’s Hospital, Saskatoon, 1907
  • Youville Home, Gravelbourg, 1961

Alberta (partial list with year of founding)

  • Edmonton General Hospital, Edmonton, 1895
  • Holy Cross Hospital, Calgary, 1891
  • Saint Thérèse Hospital, St. Paul, 1926
  • Youville Home, St. Albert, 1859

The Far North (partial list with year of founding)

  • Faraud Hospital, Fort Rae, NWT, 1940
  • Nursing Station, Pelly Bay, NWT, 1969
  • Rae-Edzo Hospital, Fort Rae, NWT, 1974
  • Saint Anne’s Hospital, Fort Smith, NWT, 1914
  • Saint Thérèse Hospital, Chesterfield Inlet, NWT, 1931


In 1855, the Grey Nuns were called to Toledo, Ohio, to care for the sick and orphans. This was the beginning of ministries in the United States, particularly in New England. The Grey Nuns are still present in the United States and are faithful to the spirit of compassion towards the least fortunate of their founderess Sainte Marguerite d’Youville.

Covenant Health Systems

In 1983, a non-profit corporation, the Grey Nuns Health System, was established by the Grey Nuns in Massachusetts in order to transfer to laypeople the administration of their institutions that had been providing health care in the northeastern United States. The name of this organization was changed in 1986 to Covenant Health Systems, but it remains a Catholic institution faithful to the spirit of compassion for the most deprived people, as in the community initiated by Saint Marguerite d’Youville. The authority to administer the institutions founded by the Grey Nuns was fully transferred to this corporation in 1996.

Partial list with year of founding

  • Mary Immaculate Restorative Center, Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1868
  • St. Antony Orphanage, Toledo, Ohio, 1855
  • St. Vincent Hospital, Toledo, Ohio, 1855
  • St. Joseph Hospital, Nashua, New Hampshire, 1907
  • St. Joseph Orphanage, Nashua, New Hampshire, 1900
  • Youville Place Community, Lexington, Massachusetts, 1996
  • Youville Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1882


Accueil Bonneau


The first link in the chain leading to the Accueil Bonneau was the Saint Charles Hospice, a day-and-night shelter for men and women that was opened on 7 May 1877.  The shelter was demolished in 1894 to make room for the Viger railway station. The Fourneau Économique (Economic Kitchen), a depot where food and clothing were distributed to the poor, on Champ de Mars Street took up the slack in the same neighbourhood. In 1904, the dream of reviving the Saint Charles Hospice began to take shape. On Saint Paul Street, the Grey Nuns were administering the Saint Antoine de Bonsecours Home; and on De la Commune Street, they were administering the Clothing Depot for the Poor which was helping homeless people and those with no fixed abode. From 1909 to 1934, Sister Rose-de-Lima Bonneau was the director of the Clothing Depot. In 1978, this charitable work was incorporated under the name Accueil Bonneau.

The Grey Nuns of Montreal are still very active at the Accueil Bonneau as members of the Board and volunteers to the beneficiaries. The organization plays an essential role for the homeless population of Montreal. Besides providing meals and distributing clothing, it offers services to facilitate social reintegration.  The Accueil Bonneau also manages four rooming houses that can accommodate 116 homeless people.

The Grey Nuns of Montreal, the Priests of Saint-Sulpice, and the Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Montreal, as corporate members of the Accueil Bonneau, are responsible for its general administration.

Centre de partage Johannais

The Centre de Partage Communautaire Johannais (Johannais Community Sharing Centre), located in Saint Jean sur Richelieu, focuses on offering aid to people in need, regardless of their social status, race, sex, or religion. Among its many services are a family counter, a furniture depot, a socio-professional integration, assistance, hospitality, listening, mutual aid, etc.

Nazareth Institute

ASGM L020-09, 1861

In 1861, on the invitation of Father Victor Rousselot, PSS, the Grey Nuns founded in Montreal on the present site of Place des Arts, the first Canadian institute for the blind. It provided lodging, up-bringing, and schooling for thousands of visually handicapped children, adolescents, and young adults from all over Quebec. In collaboration with the National Institute for Blind Youth (Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles [INJA]) in Paris and through the intermediary agency of Father Rousselot, who himself was visually impaired, they introduced the use of Braille to teach reading, writing, and music. The blind musicians trained by the Grey Nuns attained very high levels of proficiency and formed the first French Canadian music conservatory.

In 1975, the Grey Nuns merged their institute with the Louis Braille Institute. The Nazareth and Louis Braille Institute, with headquarters now located in Longueuil, is today playing a leading role in the rehabilitation of visually handicapped people of all ages. The Institute is affiliated with the University of Montreal and forms part of Greater Montreal’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Rehabilitation (Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire en Réadaptation [CRIR]) for teaching and researching the visually impaired.

Notre-Dame Hospital

ASGM L036-A086

In 1880, the Grey Nuns accepted “to relieve suffering humanity” by serving in the new Notre-Dame Hospital. They were put in charge of the care of patients and of the internal governance of the hospital. In 1898, they founded the first French-language nursing school. Eleven sisters were enrolled in the first courses. The doctors commended their “wonderful sense of duty”. The Grey Nuns in collaboration with the medical staff administered Notre Dame Hospital until the 1960s, when winds of change began to blow through Quebec society. In 1996, Notre Dame Hospital became one of the three institutions comprised in the Hospital Center of the University of Montreal.

Lajemmerais Home

ASGM L017-Y1-C

The Lajemmerais Hospice in Varennes was founded in 1859. It was one of the first establishments in the long list of homes, schools, and convents opened by the Grey Nuns in the greater Montreal area. Complying with a request from the local authorities and in accordance with the needs of the local population, it became the Lajemmerais CHSLD in 1972.

Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital


The Grey Nuns of Montreal agreed to participate in the founding of a new hospital for the population of Montreal East in 1949. The first meetings of the members of the Maisonneuve Hospital took place in the Mother House of the Grey Nuns. The community wanted innovations in the plans for both the organization of healthcare and the medical facilities. A nursing school completed the project. Two sisters, Mance Décary and Rachel Tourigny, were designated to serve on the building committee. Sister Rachel Tourigny was the Executive Director of the Hospital from 1953 to 1959. The Hospital opened in 1954. In 1965, the Hospital’s administration was handed over to laypeople, and the Sisters withdrew progressively during the 1970s as a major reform of healthcare in Quebec was set in motion.

By the year 2000, it had become a huge hospital complex. It is now a university-affiliated center with specialties in ophthalmology, nephrology, and onco-haematology. The hospital serves the largest population base in Quebec and has new projects for enlargement, especially regarding emergency services, which have the highest user rate in Montreal.

The Heart Institute

Institut de cardiologie de Montréal et Sr Lucille Ouellet ASGM L121

When they were still active at Notre Dame Hospital, the Sisters suggested to a young cardiologist, Dr. Paul David, that they assume responsibility for the cardiology department of the Maisonneuve Hospital. He was able to obtain an autonomous Institute for the most up-to-date research in cardiology, a rapidly growing field in the 1950s. Sister Lucille Ouellet, who had gone to the United States to study for two years, coordinated the arrangements for space and the purchase of equipment. For a number of years, she remained in charge of cardiological nursing care. In 1966, the Institute moved into a new space that has been enlarged several times since then. Today the Institute has a world-class reputation in cardiology.

La Maison Grise

Founded in 1990 by the Ville-Marie Province of the Grey Nuns, La Maison Grise (The Grey House), Montreal, has since then responded to an urgent need for long-term lodging for women who have no fixed address or who have been abused or are in difficulty. In 1997, the organization was transferred to laypeople from various professional backgrounds who make up the board of directors today.

La Maison Grise is recognized today as much for the its clinical approach targeted on social reintegration as for the quality of its services and the relevance of its mission. Over the years, it has contributed and will continue to contribute enormously to hundreds of women’s regaining their self-esteem and meaning in their lives.

Maison Marguerite

Maison Marguerite was opened in 1977 in the Mother House of the Grey Nuns. It welcomes single women who are without financial resources or shelter or who are in difficulty. The organization welcomes approximately 300 women a year. They are assisted by a team of professionals who help them move towards autonomy. Since 2007, Maison Marguerite has been in a building with 18 rooms for short-term stays and 18 studio apartments for long-term dwelling.

Villa Marguerite

On 1 July 2005, the Grey Nuns Regional Centre, house of the Grey Nuns of Saint Albert’s Provincial Administration, was sold to the Innovative Housing Society (IHS) to become a new residence called Villa Marguerite.

Villa Marguerite is situated in Edmonton’s west end and currently houses approximately 180 residents. It has been recently renovated and is close to elementary and junior high schools, shopping centres, and major transit routes.

Innovative Housing Society is pleased to announce the construction of its latest project, a 77-suite Designated Assisted Living Community. This addition to Villa Marguerite is designed specifically to create an accessible and safe-living environment for people who require a little bit of extra attention each day, people who, for example, have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Youville Home Hospital

Built on a rich 146-year history, Youville Home provides Saint Albert with continuing care and supportive housing options in a new modern facility with a warm environment. The Sisters of Charity (Grey Nuns) established the original ministry in 1863. A new building was opened in 1966, and again in 2007. Youville joined Caritas Health Group in April 2008.

Youville Place

Youville Place in Lexington was formerly the provincial home for the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, “Grey Nuns”.  In 1997, visionary Sisters created Youville Place, a 92-unit residence with services for retired Sisters. The building also welcomed lay residents. In 2008, Covenant Health Systems, Inc. of Tewksbury, Massachusetts, became the sole sponsor of Youville Place where many retired Sisters continue to live with lay residents.