Mother Davignon

Sister Marie Louise Virginie Davignon, of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph; first superior at Chatham, 1869-73; b. St. Mathias, Lower Canada, 17 Nov 1823, d/o Joseph Davignon and Victoire Vandandaigue; entered religious life, 1842; d St. Basile, NB, 2 Feb 1874.

Louise Davignon entered the novitiate of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph in Montreal in 1842 and took her vows in 1844. The following year, she was one of the founders of the Hotel Dieu Hospital at Kingston, ON. She soon had to return to Montreal due to an illness which would continue to trouble her, also she later occupied responsible positions within the order, mostly in Quebec, including a six-year term as a hospital supervisor. She was a skillful organizer and took a special interest in landscaping, gardening, and other outdoor work.

On 16 July 1869, Davignon and three companions (Sisters McGurty, St. Louis, and Vitaline) arrived on the Miramichi from Montreal on board a passenger steamship, "SECRET." The four had been sent from the mother house in response to a plea from Bishop James Rogers for a hospital in the Chatham diocese, and they opened the Hotel Dieu Hospital soon after their arrival. During its first year, it was located in the bishop's former residence; that is, in the two-storey, wood frame building, 25' x 36', which currently houses St. Michael's Museum. It was moved to a new building in 1870.

Nobody on the Miramichi was happier to see the Religious Hospitallers arrive than Dr. Stafford Benson, who had tried unsuccessfully for a long time to have a public hospital in Chatham. As noted elsewhere, he extended his services to the new institution free of charge. His credibility as a physician and surgeon, in combination with the expertise and commitment of Davignon and her colleagues, ensured that the hospital got off to a successful start.

After she had been superior for four years, Davignon's health broke, and she was recalled to Montreal. She had recovered sufficiently within a few months to be sent back to New Brunswick to found the Hotel Dieu Hospital at St. Basile, but she proved to be terminally ill and died four months later, at age fifty. It was stated in her official obituary that she was a women "prudent and discreet, possessing those admirable traits of character that form holy souls." From the Dictionary of Miramichi Biography by W.D. Hamilton (1997)

Sister St. Louis (Beauchamp)

Sister St. Louis came from Hotel Dieu, Montreal as one of the foundresses of Hotel Dieu, Chatham on July 16, 1869. She held the offices of Assistant Superior and Mistress of Novices. Recalled to Montreal in 1877, where she died in the office of Superior in 1884. Foundresses of Hotel Dieu, Chatham, July 16, 1869.

Sister Helen McGurty

Sister Helen McGurty of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph; chief hospitaller at Chatham; b. Ireland, 1 Sep 1837, d/o Peter McGurty and Helen Flanagan; entered religious life, 1852; d. Montreal, 22 Feb 1913. Helen McGurty was one of the four members of the Religious Hospitallers who arrived in Chatham in 1869 under the leadership of Louise Davignon to establish and conduct the Hotel Dieu Hospital. As she was the only native English speaker of the group, it was appropriate for her to be made "chief hospitaller." This position required her to be present in the hospital at most times, and it was she with whom the patients and members of the public ordinarily communicated.

McGurty spent thirteen years in Chatham before being recalled to Montreal. During that time, she worked in three successive Hotel Dieu hospitals. The first was a makeshift one set up in the bishop's tiny former residence. In spite of the cramped quarters, sixty patients were admitted during the first year of operation, and 500 outpatients were treated. The second hospital, which was built in 1870, was spacious enough, but it was cold and sparsely equippied The third, which was open in 1876, was an elaborate T-shaped structure, which remained in use as a hospital until 1913. At the conclusion of McGurty's service in 1883, admissions were averaging more than 100 patients annually. In 1993, a plaque honouring McGurty's memory was placed on the original Hotel Dieu Hospital building, which now houses St. Michael's Museum & Genealogical Centre.

Sister Vitaline, lay sister

No picture or bio available at this time.