This Week in History
Grey Nuns Arrive at Saint-Boniface
|For the week of Monday June 15, 1998
On June 21, 1844, four Sisters of Charity stepped ashore at the Red River parish of Saint-Boniface, in present-day Winnipeg. Answering a plea made by Bishop Joseph-Norbert Provencher, these women, better known as the Grey Nuns, were part of the first religious community to settle in the Canadian West. After 59 gruelling days of canoeing and portaging through complete wilderness, Sisters Valade, Lagrave, Lafrance and Coutlée arrived at their new home.
There were about 6,000 people living in the Red River settlement when the nuns arrived. Within weeks of their arrival, the Grey Nuns began holding classes in makeshift schools for the children of Saint-Boniface. After their convent, the Provincial House, was completed in 1847, the Grey Nuns transferred their classes there. As the population grew, the Grey Nuns took charge of numerous new schools throughout the west.
The Grey Nuns' Convent was declared a National Historic Site in 1958. A rare example of "Red River frame" construction, and the only original building from the pre-Confederation Saint-Boniface mission, this building is now open as the Saint-Boniface Museum (Manitoba, Canada).
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