Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
July 2008

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Sisters of St. Anne


Sisters of St. Anne (S.S.A.), a religious congregation devoted to the education of youth and to works of charity, which was founded on September 8, 1850, at Vaudreuil, Quebec, by Bishop Bourget, of Montreal, and Marie Esther Sureau-Blondin, venerated by her spiritual daughters as Mother Mary Ann. In 1853, the community was transferred to St. Jacques l'Achigan. The Sisters accepted the direction of a boarding school, already established by the Ladies of the Sacred Heart, and also taught the children of the village. In all, they numbered 24 professed sisters and 12 novices. Four remained to conduct the convent at Vaudreuil; three stayed at St. Gene­viève, a branch house opened in 1851. At Lachine, in 1861, the residence of the late governor of the Hudson's Bay Com­pany, Sir George Simpson, was purchased to found a boarding-school for the education of young ladies. This institution, opened in September of the same year, progressed rapidly, and is still flourishing. Finding it expedient to be nearer Montreal, the mother-house and the novitiate were removed from St. Jacques to Lachine in 1864, and the present large edifice was erected in 1870. Subsequently, Governor Simpson's house was demolished, and was re­placed by the Community's chapel, known as the Sanctuary of St. Anne. Since 1909, the general administration and the novitiate have occupied a spacious building about a mile distant, on an elevation called Mount St. Anne. Here are the headquarters of the whole Institute.

As early as 1858, Sisters of St. Anne crossed the continent, and opened schools, hospitals, and a novitiate, in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1889. From here branches have stretched north to beneath the Arctic Circle, to Alaska, and in the far east to Japan. The work of the Sisters has so expanded that to-day they number 2,161, and conduct over 100 institutions, scattered throughout the archdioceses of Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Boston, the dioceses of Joliette, Valleyfield, Mont-Laurier, Saint-Jean, Victoria, Springfield, Providence, Albany, Seattle, the apostolic vicariates of Alaska and Prince Rupert, and the prefecture of Kagoshima. Whether in day or boarding schools, the course of studies includes kindergartens, primary, grammar, com­mercial, and high school subjects. Among the 50 residential and day academies in Montreal and its vicinity, may be mentioned St. Anne's Boarding School, Lachine; St. Angela's, St. Cuné­gonde; Guarding Angel, St. Henry; Luke Callaghan Memorial School, Mont­real; Holy Angel's Academy, St. Jérôme; and St. Anne's, Rigaud. These are high schools affiliated with Montreal Uni­versity. The Sisters of St. Anne have also the direction of a regional domestic science school at St. Jacques de Mont­calm, a normal school at St. Jérôme de Terrebonne, and a classical college at St. Henri, Montreal. In the eastern States, the Congregation has charge of many Franco-American parochial schools. It also conducts St. Anne's Academy, Malborough, Massachusetts, a select boarding school, affiliated with the Catholic University of Washington. In British Columbia, the humble "log cabin", half of which served as a "school" and half as a "convent", has expanded to an imposing chain of modem schools and academies, such as St. Anne's Academy, Victoria; Little Flower Academy, Vancouver; St. Anne s Academies of New Westminster and Kamloops, respectively.

The objective of these establishments is to prepare cultured and practical Christian women for society. To this the Sisters direct their efforts by giving moral, intellectual, and physical train­ing to their pupils. The buildings are well located and modernly equipped, and the curriculum includes music, art, and domestic science.

The alumnae of these institutions belong to "St. Anne's Association of Former Pupils," which has for its aim to stimulate Catholic action by study circles, social works of charity, and mission activities. Lay retreats are given twice a year at the mother-house, and annually in the boarding schools.

A few Indian industrial schools, orphanages, private sanitaria, hospitals, and nurses' training schools are con­ducted by the Sisterhood. Though hospital work is not the specific end of the Institute, it is undertaken at the request of the bishops, and principally in far-away mission regions, where there are no nursing congregations. See the Rev. E. J. Auclair, Histoire des Soeurs de Sainte-Anne, 1850-1900 (Montreal, 1922).


Source: W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Volume VI, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 398p., pp. 16-17.


© 2008 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College