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Marguerite Bourgeoys and Montreal
Adapted from the introduction to Patricia Simpson's Marguerite Bourgeoys and Montreal, 1640-1665 (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1997)
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1. Educator of Montreal
Marguerite Bourgeoys, a native of Troyes, the ancient capital of the province of Champagne, in 1653 came to a tiny and beleaguered Ville-Marie, still undergoing its birth pangs. The city that we now know as Montreal came into existence through the desire of a group of devout men and women in seventeenth-century France to share with the native people of the New World what they regarded as their most precious possession: their Christian faith. They hoped to achieve this goal through the establishment of a settlement on the island of Montreal in the colony of New France. The foundation was intended to embody the Christian ideal described in the Acts of the Apostles in such a way as to attract the Amerindians just as the communities of early Christians had drawn their first converts in the Mediterranean world of the first century. To attain this end, the Société de Notre-Dame de Montréal was formed in France in 1640, and Ville-Marie founded on the island of Montreal in May two years later.
Marguerite Bourgeoys's arrival eleven years after the initial foundation was to fulfill part of the original design for the colony, which included a plan to provide for the education of its children. She came with the recruitment known as the “hundred men” (« La grande recrue »), who were to prevent that first foundation from abandonment or extinction, the alternatives facing Ville-Marie by 1653. On the voyage between France and Canada, during which she had cared for the sick and consoled the dying, the prospective settlers with whom she journeyed had already begun to address her as “Sister.” From this beginning until her death in 1700, she was totally dedicated to the welfare of the people of Montreal.
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Dreamer and Pioneer
Highlights of Her Journey
Uncovering Her True Portrait
To Learn More About Our Foundress