Daughters of Wisdom


        Daughters of Wisdom of the hospital                         Reunion of the Daughters of Wisdom
         one year after the opening (1954)                        who worked at the hospital (August 1985)
         (Photo: Montfort Hospital Archives)                            (Photo: Montfort Hospital Archives)


In the winter of 2013, at the request of the Hospital’s Executive Office, Sister Linda Joseph, Superior General of the Daughters of Wisdom, asked sisters who had worked at Montfort to submit first-hand accounts of their experiences. The sisters were employed as workers or volunteers starting in the winter of 1952 to establish the hospital’s departments, services and units.

The Daughters of Wisdom administered the hospital from 1953 to 1969 and filled a range of positions as clerks, secretaries, assistants, administrators, nutritionists, medical technicians and nurses. They often worked seven days a week in addition to living at the hospital. Back then, the entire sixth floor was reserved for the community until 1971, and included dormitories, numerous rooms, a parlor, a community room, a refectory, a study room, a library, a kitchen, an infirmary, a laundry and the Superior’s office.


More than twenty sisters share their memories

We arrived […] long before the opening, in October 1953, to help assemble the beds, arrange the linens and prepare the patients’ rooms. […] There was something very special in the air … especially with the arrival of the first baby, Louis‑Marie Côté, at the back door while we were celebrating the official opening at the front.”
Marielle Campeau‑Kistemaker (Sister Maurice de l’Enfant‑Jésus)

My time in the laundry started suddenly. During the opening ceremony, we had our first birth and the laundry was up and running by the next day. There was no down time for this department: one weekend we had fifty babies in the nursery. And surprise, on a certain morning a cat had kittens between the rollers of the ironing machine!”
Sister Fabiola Serré (Sister Louise de la Sagesse)

“From the start, mutual assistance was a feature of Hôpital Montfort. Every department worked in cooperation with the others on behalf of the whole, for the greater good of the sick.”
Sister Marguerite Piperno (Sister Térésa)

“One important memory for me was mass said over the intercom for patients. After communion, I had the privilege of praying into the microphone for them.”
Sister Lois Mathieu (Sister Gilles de la Trinité)

“Dr. Émile Tessier, the radiologist, was on salary but money was scarce at that time in the hospital’s history. His salary was therefore entered on the books and paid whenever there was money in the kitty. One day, Dr. Tessier went to see the administrator to ask for a little grocery money...”
Sister Aline Leduc (Sister Paul‑Marie de l’Immaculée)

“Every year, the Women’s Auxiliary organized a Garden Party as a fundraiser. Everything was prepared in the kitchen.  We would set up 18 well decorated, beautiful tables on the grounds of the grey house where Daughters of Wisdom still reside today.”
Sister Fernande Quesnel (Sister Rose de la Sagesse)

“When the hospital opened, I was assigned to accounting in the administrative office. Since I was bilingual, one of my duties was to communicate with the Community Nursing Registry in order to reserve the services of nurses in independent practice. I also had to complete the Government of Ontario forms, which were available in English only at the time. I did a lot of secretarial work in administration. I even trained several secretaries by introducing them to surgical protocols and pathology reports. In 1956 I was appointed Assistant Executive Director, a position I held until 1965.”
Sister Rita Dénommée (Sister Rita de la Trinité)

“I arrived at Montfort in early February 1955, a year and a half after the opening. There was a wonderful spirit among employees. […] Since the cafeteria was the only meeting room large enough in the hospital, everything happened there. At Christmas, there were gifts for all the children of employees. Some employees who met at the Hospital even got married.”
Sister Madeleine Charles (Sister Marie‑Angèle du Sacré‑Cœur)

“I took my nursing courses at Montfort from 1964 to 1967. As a young Daughter of Wisdom, I lived on the sixth floor with fifty some companions. These two new experiences – community life and nursing – were major but stimulating challenges.”
Sister Reine Pichette (Sister Reine de Jésus Sagesse)

“I remember that I liked the hospital a lot, even though we sometimes carried a very heavy load! But I was young back then. Our patients were very well cared for. […]  However, it demanded limitless and sometimes superhuman dedication because in the beginning, we never had a vacation to rebuild our strength, and for people in somewhat delicate health, it could be exhausting.”
Sister Nicole Fortier (Sister Nicole de l’Eucharistie)

“My time at the hospital was brief, but I always felt very comfortable there. The atmosphere of mutual cooperation and cheerfulness among us, and friendly respect among the doctors, was extremely pleasant. Everyone pitched in, from one department to another, when it came to lending a hand.”
Sister Gisèle Lambert (Sister Gisèle du Précieux Sang)


“My last four years at Montfort let me […] achieve my dream […] of becoming a nurse. I was among the last graduates of the School of Nursing, which closed in 1971.”
Sister Eileen Mathieu (Sister Raymond de la Trinité)

“I would like to convey our sincere gratitude to the nurses. As Jean‑Jacques Rousseau said: “A nurse must have the heart of a mother, the composure of a doctor and the patience of a saint.” What held true in the 18th century still applies today.”
Sister Noémi de Montfort, Annual Report, 1967

“We brought religious values that created an atmosphere of love and compassion towards the sick.”
Sister Jeanne Lavallée (Sister Daniella de l’Enfant-Jésus)

“My experience in this hospital environment – where I had never worked before – instilled in me the desire to work with the sick.  That is why, later on in life, I studied to become an ancillary patient care aid.”
Sister Jeannine Fleurent (Sister Rachel-Marie de la Sagesse)


“While studying nursing at Algonquin College, I did a number of internships at Montfort Hospital.  As I really felt at home there, I stayed on after graduation and worked there in 1984-1985.  I was very proud to follow in the footsteps of my predecessors.”
Sister Denyse Dostaler (Sister Denyse-Marie de la Croix)

“My years at [Montfort] were for me a very precious time of apprenticeship.”
Sister Yvonne Dutrisac (Sister Cécile-Marie de la Croix)

“I loved the working atmosphere at Montfort and I gained some solid experience there.”
Sister Paulette Berthelot (Sister Cécile Christiane de Notre-Dame)

“I studied to be a nurse from 1962-1965. [Afterwards,] I worked in all the  departments.”
Sister Carmelle Dugas (Sister Alfred-Marie de l’Immaculée)

“I studied nursing from 1956-1959, after which I worked as a replacement in various departments.”
Sister Elaine Schryer (Sister Michel-Marie de Jésus)

“I took the nursing course from 1959-1962. [I had the honour] to be Head Nurse of Surgery from September 1962 to November 1964.”
Sister Claudette Lapalme (Sister Nicole-Marie de l’Eucharistie)

I remember when the Intensive Care Unit opened up on the 4th floor….[It was] a difficult beginning, but everyone involved was up to the challenge.”
Sister Camille Hubert (Sister Marie-Camille du Christ)

“During the 1960s and 1970s, nursing was evolving in a major way.  We saw the need to pursue our studies in order to obtain a university degree or knowledge of another specialty.”
Silvia Ferland (Sister Lise Marie de Jésus)

“It was the commitment of doctors, nurses, indeed all the staff, and especially their strong belief in the future, that led to the survival of this hospital, as small as it was in the beginning, and made it what it is today, a mega Montfort Hospital.”
Sister Huguette Blais (Sister Marie-Marthe de Jésus)

“CARITAS  triumphs… at Montfort because its values have been, are and will be permeated in the very walls of this building.”
Sister Marthe Jutras (Sister Suzanne-Marie)


Share your souvenirs from Montfort with us: montfort@montfort.on.ca.

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The beginnings

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