Sisters of Charity of Ottawa – Archives Department
In 1843, Monseigneur Patrick Phelan and Father Telmon called upon the assistance of the Grey Nuns for a new mission in Bytown (current day Ottawa), to establish a social aid network hitherto non-existent in the region. On February 20th 1845, Sister Élisabeth Bruyère arrived with three accompanying nuns and two young women in training in response to this call. Upon arrival, they founded a school and then a hospital that would eventually become the Ottawa General Hospital. Meanwhile, the sisters visited the poor and the sick in their homes and took care of orphans and the elderly. Throughout the twentieth century, the congregation’s mission expanded beyond Canada’s borders and today reaches the United States, several African countries, Japan and Brazil.
DESCRIPTION OF FONDS AND COLLECTIONS
The archive collection bears witness to the different charity programs founded by the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa. This group founded nearly eighty convents, residences, and charities in Ontario and about the same number in Quebec. The education of young people, aid for the poor (alleviation of poverty) and care for the sick have driven the sisters to become involved in many aspects of life in francophone spheres. Each of the congregation’s establishments contains information about their triple mission and also about the history of the cities and towns where the sisters have been present, like the greater Ottawa/Gatineau region, for example. At the archives, one can find the fonds of institutions such as the Ottawa General Hospital, the Notre Dame du Sacré Cœur School in Ottawa, Saint Louis School in Pointe-du-Lac, Notre Dame de la Merci Convent in Aylmer, Notre Dame de Grâce Convent (Saint Joseph College) in Hull, etc. The archives also include some of the nuns’ special collections. In general, the documents attest to the nuns’ working lives and their impact in their respective spheres.
Time span covered by archives: 1885-today
Technical specifications and maps: 3,598
Iconographic documents: approx. 22
Text documents: approx. 250 m.l.
Hours of video recording: 50
Number of fonds: 264
Digital data: 79.8 Gb
The collection also includes a specialized library composed of 1,500 volumes.
MANDATE AND MISSION
The mission of the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa Archives Department is to document the community’s history since its founding in 1845. The conserved archive collections attest to their medical, scholastic, and social works in Canada and to their mission ad gentes. The archives department also promotes the preservation, management and promotion of the congregation’s documentary heritage. It thus speaks to the magnitude of the legacy left by our founder, Mother Élisabeth Bruyère. The department is in constant evolution so as to remain a place of living memory for members of the community and a point of reference for the public at large.