138, rue Saint-Pierre
In Old Montreal, you will find the Place d’Youville and the Maison Mere d’Youville (House of Mother Youville). Her married name was Marie-Marguerite d’Youville and she became a widow at a young age. At the time, she had already lost four of her six children, her husband and her father. So, she already had faced some personal challenges. Her belief in God and her compassion to others took another dimension.
With the support of other women, Marguerite d’Youville created the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, originally known as the Grey Nuns, a nickname that they would continue using despite their recognized stature.
In 1747, the community took over the General Hospital which had been run by the Charron’s Brothers’s since 1693. The building was not in its best shape.
While under the Brothers govern, only men were allowed within the walls of the hospital. Under the Sisters and Mother Marguerite d’Youville, everyone in need were welcomed, thus, commonly naming the place the Maison Mere Youville. A part of the hospital was at one point sacrificed to accommodate the Ste-Anne Market, naming the place where the market used to stand Place d’Youville.
Unfortunately, the Sisters experienced a major fire in 1765 that required the hospital to be rebuilt. It was done quickly on the original foundation.
The old hospital on St-Pierre Street is known today as Maison Mere d’Youville. Mother Marguerite d’Youville passed away in 1771 but her work, the Grey Nuns’ Hospital, continued at this location until 1871.
While the building continues to remind us of the solidity of the hospital, the community is looking for a solution to ensure its future; a perpetual souvenir of this historical place. Currently, the building presents an exhibition on Marguerite Youville and the place where she welcomed everyone in distress.
The work of Mother Marguerite Youville for people in need made her noticed and she was rewarded. She became the first Canadian born woman to be canonized, and her two sons became priests.
The standing walls are from the first chapel built around 1700’s. The church was part of the hospital for years.
Since 2010, Sainte-Marguerite-d’Youville rests in peace in Sainte-Anne Basilica in Varennes, her birth village.
Note: Across the street, the land was also owned by the Grey Nuns but rented to Bouthillier for a while. Bouthillier built infrastructures for warehousing which were used from 1827 to 1861. The place was also used by a few tenants and was owned by the Sisters until 1967. The U-shaped building, with an interior courtyard, is known as the Bouthillier Warehouse or the Youville Stables. However, now, the three warehouses have been converted into business offices and a restaurant. It is the respectable steakhouse restaurant, Gibby’s, that welcomes guests to this historical building.