Couvent de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame

Institution founded in 1849, Saint-Eustache, Québec.

Although teaching at Saint-Eustache Boarding School did not start until 1849, its history began a little over twenty years earlier. As a gesture of thanks for the renovations made to Saint-Eustache Church, the parish priest, Jacques Paquin, funded the construction of a convent and, in 1928, he organized a first task to collect stones for its construction. In December 1833, the convent, a two-storey stone building located near the church on the banks of the Mille Îles River, was ceded to the Corporation of Church Works and Council of Saint-Eustache. It was to benefit and be used by the Congrégation de Notre-Dame sisters with the obligation to provide education to young people. Father Paquin then asked the collaboration of two Congrégation de Notre-Dame sisters to achieve this objective. In 1836, the construction of the convent was almost complete; only the agreement regarding the use of the convent by the Congregation needed finalizing. However, as the sisters were taking final steps to formalize their new mission, the Battle of Saint-Eustache (Patriots’ Rebellion) broke out in December 1837 and disrupted the situation. The patriots took refuge inside the convent, which was largely destroyed. It was hastily rebuilt to serve as a place of worship since the church had been completely demolished during the fighting. Meanwhile, Father Paquin died without seeing the convent rebuilt and providing education. Fortunately, his successor, Father Hippolyte Moreau, ensured that everything was completed. Delayed by these unforeseen circumstances, the foundresses, Sister Sainte-Victoire (Julie-Adélaïde Rainville) and Sister Saint-Narcisse (Claire-Hermine Trottier de Beaubien) finally arrived in Saint-Eustache and welcomed the first girl students to the convent on September 10, 1849. Quickly, the school became overcrowded because of the large number of enrollments and it was up to the sisters to fund the construction of a two-story annex, which was built in 1855 and comprised a chapel, a study room, a music room, and a dormitory. In 1885, the convent required urgent work, for which the sisters and the Church Council assumed the costs. However, life at the boarding school was coming to an end. In 1898, it was demolished and completely rebuilt, this time with electricity and heating, thanks to the combined efforts and funding of Father Calixte Ouimet, the Congregation sisters and the Church Council. At that time, the new convent school had more than three hundred students, including about forty boarders. It provided education from Grade 1 to Grade 7 and included music and English courses.

On October 10, 1937, to commemorate the Patriots’ Rebellion, a ceremony was held during which a monument was erected in memory of Dr. Jean-Olivier Chenier and his companions, killed during the December 1837 clashes. In addition to the convent, the Congregation sisters also managed a farm, which had been bequeathed to them for the purpose of education. However, the expenses tied to the farm became restrictive. In 1938, the Congregation’s General Council relinquished the farm’s management to the Church Council. In 1940, the farm was sold. At this time, the sisters taught classes at both the boarding school and the parish school. Other courses were introduced at the boarding school, such as Artistic Drawing and The Art of Cooking, which was made possible through a fundraising lottery. Various fundraisers were organized regularly for educational development and convent repairs. The students were encouraged to join associations such as the Enfants de Marie, Anges gardiens and Enfants Jésus. On October 20, 1946, to the former students’ delight, the Saint-Eustache Boarding School Alumni Association was created under the name L’Amicale de Notre-Dame-des-Deux-Montagnes. From 1946 the sisters taught classes in the convent-school, which was now under the direction of the Saint-Eustache School Commission. In 1949, due to the increase in student population, an old house was transformed into a school named Le Plateau School because of its elevated position. Only a few years later, unsanitary conditions prompted the construction of a new school for girls on the same site. From 1952, this new school named Notre-Dame School received two hundred and seventeen students. In 1956, there were two hundred seventy-eight students. At the request of the school commissioners, two classes were set aside for boys, because the other schools lacked space. A new school for girls was built on land adjacent to the boarding school. In 1961, the Congregation’s General Council authorised the closing of the Saint-Eustache Boarding School because of demands by the School Commission regarding tuition fees. The students were sent to the regional school under the direction of the Saint-Eustache Regional High School Commission. The sisters continued to teach in the parish schools. In 1981, they moved to the newly established Résidence Christ-Roi.

NB: This text was written using documents found in the archival holdings in our possession and does not constitute a complete administrative history of the teaching establishment.

Couvent de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame

Couvent de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame

Saint-Eustache, Quebec

Institution fondée en 1849

Dernière adresse : 145, rue St-Louis

145, rue St-Louis