1642 to present

While the Congregation of the Hospitallers of Saint Joseph strengthened its roots in France, Mr. LeRoyer prepared a work of colonization and evangelization on the Island of Montreal.  While awaiting permission to send the RHSJ, Jerome LeRoyer chose Paul de Chomedey, Sieur de Maisonneuve, as Governor of the establishment and Jeanne Mance to found a Hotel Dieu there. They arrived on the Island of Montreal on May 17, 1642.

Hotel-Dieu of Saint Joseph, first hospital in Montreal – 1644
Shortly after her arrival, Jeanne Mance opened a dispensary in the fort.  In 1644 she had the first Hotel-Dieu built at the corner of what is presently Saint Paul and Saint Sulpice streets. 

When Jeanne Mance died on June 18, 1673, the administration of the hospital was entrusted to the Sulpicians, Lords of the Island of Montreal.  It was then transferred to the RHSJ in 1676 who administered the Hotel Dieu until 1973.  The Hotel Dieu, which was expanded and also rebuilt after three major fires, was the only hospital in Montreal until 1822.

In 1861 the hospital on St. Paul Street was demolished and rebuilt on Mont Sainte-Famille at the corner of Saint Urbain and Pine Avenue.  It had a 210 bed capacity to care for the sick, and the elderly until 1874.  In 1901, a school of nursing was established.  In addition to this school, other educational programs were established on this site for the training of laboratory and radiology technicians, practical nursing students and those planning to work in nutrition services.

In 1964, at the request of the RHSJ of Montreal, the Hospital was constituted into a corporation entitled “Hotel-Dieu de Montreal” with the RHSJ remaining on the Board of Directors. This transition period ended in 1973 with the appointment of Yves Andre a lay man, as Administrator of the Hotel Dieu.

In 1996, Hotel Dieu became affiliated with the University of Montreal Medical Center.  The Marie de la Ferre residence, a community of the Sisters working at the hospital, was sold to the Hotel Dieu.

Community of the Hotel-Dieu Sisters – 1659

When Sisters Judith Moreau de Bresoles, Catherine Mace and Marie Maillet arrived in Ville-Marie in October 1659, they established the first religious community of women in Montreal. With Jeanne Mance they began the long tradition of lay-religious collaboration.  They lived in “Old Montreal” until 1861, the year they moved to West Pine Avenue.  On January 24, 1952, the community of the Hotel Dieu Sisters was a separate entity, occupying quarters at the Mother House before they transferred to the Marie de la Ferre Residence in 1964.

Mother-house - 1949
In 1949, at the time of the union of houses into a Generalate, the monastery assumed the name of “Motherhouse”.  It  became the headquarters of the general administration when Montreal, Arthabaska and the more recent foundations of Biddeford, Maine, Hauterive and Saint Jerome, came under the general government.

In 1953, three American Generalates came together (New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario.)  The Montreal Motherhouse, the first house established in America remained as the headquarters of the General Administration until 1975, returning once again in 2007.

Generalate – September 1946 – March 1949 – October 1949 – March 1953 – May 1965.
The Congregation has undergone significant changes in its governance from its very beginnings.  At the instigation of Bishop Henry Arnault of Angers, M. Le Royer’s “Daughters of Saint Joseph” became cloistered religious with solemn vows, assuming the name of Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph.  Consequently, each foundation would become autonomous like the large monastic orders.

This regime of cloister and solemn vows spanned close to three centuries.  However, at the beginning of the XXth century changes became necessary.  The first mention of a Generalate in the Congregation dates back to 1919 in New Brunswick, with Mother Audet suggesting the creation of an Acadian Generalate.  In 1937, the houses of France also raised the question of a Generalate.  In 1938, a meeting held in Kingston, Ontario  brought together the Superiors of the 12 English-speaking houses of the Congregation, who hoped to have a meeting in Montreal of all the Superiors of America.  This hope was fulfilled on April 13, 1939 and the principle of a Generalate was accepted.

Within this project, the General House would be in Montreal and the Generalate would be constituted of five provinces: La Fleche, Montreal, Kingston, Bathurst, and Chicago.  The revision of Constitutions was carried out; numerous meetings and communications had as subject this Generalate project.  In October 20, 1944, the work in process was sufficiently advanced to be suspended and the results announced in all the communities.  From always having been autonomous and in spite of many difficulties, the 43 American houses became united in 1953 under one Generalate divided into three Provinces.  The Motherhouse was, and is, in Montreal, the Canadian birthplace of the Congregation.

Unity became a reality through the creation of Generalates:
• 1st Generalate of RHSJ in New Brunswick, September 12, 1946
• 2nd Generalate of RHSJ in Montreal, March 5, 1949
• 3RD Generalate of RHSJ in Kingston, Ontario, October 14, 1949
• Merger of these three Generalates, March 19, 1953.
• France became united with the North American Generalate,  May 13, 1965.