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Table of Contents
Jeanne Mance was a French nurse and the founder of the first hospital in Montreal, Hôtel Dieu Hospital.
See the fact file below for more information on Jeanne Mance or alternatively, you can download our 28-page Jeanne Mance worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Early Life And Education
- Jeanne Mance was baptized on November 12, 1606, in Langres, France. She was the daughter of an important diocese in northern Burgundy, Charles Mance, a prosecutor for Langres’s king. Her family belonged to the administrative middle class.
- Mance was the second child of six boys and six girls. She was one of the first pupils of the newly established Ursulines at Langres. When her mother died when she was a little over 20 years old, she took the responsibility of caring for her brothers and sisters.
- There were stories that Jeanne Mance decided that she wanted to devote her life to God at the age of six or seven. However, she did not want to be a nun as she did not want to be secluded in a convent or monastery. Mance believed that her calling is to help others. Thus, she took care of the sick and injured in her early years.
First Nursing Job
- Her commitment to nursing was established in 1635-1636, during the Thirty Years War, when the Lorrains invaded the community where she lived in 1635. There had been a battle that destroyed homes and properties and a wide-scale massacre of the local population.
- The following year, sickness and plague occurred, adding to the devastation of the region. Mance acted as a nurse during this period by caring for the wounded soldiers and plague-stricken population.
- In 1640, during a pilgrimage to Troyes in Champagne, she conversed with a canon of the Cathedral at Langres about the missionary activity in “New France”, and discovered her missionary calling.
- She decided to go there and was supported by Anne of Austria, the wife of King Louis XIII, and the Jesuits. However, due to its distance, lack of civilization’s rudimentary comforts, and the threat of attack from the native population, her family opposed this decision.
- They also argued that they would not have any communication from her for a year as the ocean voyage was dangerous and could be taken only during the summer months. Not to mention that Mance was in frail health, and she was a woman.
- Mance persisted. The Langres’ canon advised her to seek guidance from Father Charles Lalemant, the Jesuit priest in charge of the Canadian missionary activities. She was further encouraged by the priest, and her decision was solidified.
- Her plan spread throughout elite Paris society and was introduced to Angelique Faure, the widow of the superintendent of Finance for the French Government, Claude de Bullion.
- She was a very wealthy woman and actively involved in supporting numerous charities. Mance impressed Madame de Bullion with her plans and was asked to continue her plan to go to New France and establish a hospital to benefit the colony.
- The widow, however, requested not to disclose her name.
Voyage To New France
- Father Lallemant recruited Mance for the Société Notre-Dame de Montréal. She began her journey on May 9, 1641, and sailed for three months. She met Jérôme de La Dauversière, the founder of an association called the Company of Montreal.
- Its purpose was to establish a religious colony dedicated to the Holy Family in the New World named Ville Marie de Montréal. Dauversière asked Mance to join the Company and was given a concrete destination in the New World to establish a hospital to benefit the colony.
- Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve was chosen to be the governor of the to-be-established colony.
- Before embarking on the new colony, Mance asked Dauversière to write and send her an outline of the Company’s plan and extend the Company’s membership to gain more financial support and ensure the colony’s survival.
- She distributed the plan with a personal invitation from herself to the many prominent and charitable people she got acquainted with before. Through this, she secured new members for the Company who were willing to donate money.
Starting A New Colony
- Jeanne Mance and Paul de Maisonneuve arrived at the beginning of August 1641 at the colony of Quebec on two separate ships. While staying there for winter, they encountered opposition from the governor and the residents of Quebec. Despite their objection, Mance and her group arrived at the Island of Montreal to found a new colony. She and Paul de Maisonneuve were considered the founders of Montreal.
- They divided their work in the colony, with Maisonneuve responsible for the “outdoors and war”, while Mance was responsible for “care indoors”. As part of her responsibility, she founded Hôtel-Dieu hospital in 1645, where she presided as treasurer and director. However, establishing a colony involved more than wars and hospitals.
- The colony had a tough start for Jeanne Mance and the small number of French colonists. The living conditions were terrible as construction of the houses was progressing very slowly. The climate was almost unbearable, and they failed to establish a good relationship with the Amerindians.
- By 1650, 150 people lived in the new colony since it was founded, but only 50 remained. Mance convinced Maisonneuve to travel to France and encourage new colonists by using the money Madame Bullion had donated for the hospital. It was known as the Great Recruitment and was believed to have saved the colony.
- In 1653, 177 colonists, including 14 women, arrived in Montreal. The men signed contracts with the Compagnie de Montreal and worked for 3-5 years in exchange for a paid voyage back to France and room and board during their stay. Marguerite Bourgeoys joined Mance and Maisonneuve in administering the colony.
- Jeanne Mance returned to France in 1658 after paralyzing her right arm due to a fall on the ice. She went back to Montreal a year later with her arm wholly healed. She was accompanied by the three Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph who cared for the sick at Hôtel-Dieu hospital, which Mance would oversee until she died.
- They had a difficult time returning to Montreal. Aside from a rough passage, they had to battle an onboard plague outbreak. Luckily all of them survived.
- Before she died, Mance laid one of the first stones of Montreal’s Notre Dame Cathedral. After a long illness, she died in 1673. Her tomb can be found today in the chapel of the Musée des Hospitalières de l’Hôtel-Dieu on Pine Avenue, Montréal.
- A massive metal statue of Mance was built outside the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital, a great reminder that a woman founded the first hospital of Montreal.
Jeanne Mance Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Jeanne Mance across 28 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Jeanne Mance worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Jeanne Mance who was the founder of the first hospital in Montreal and co-founded the new colony Ville de Montreal in 1642, together with Paul de Maisonneuve.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Jeanne Mance Facts
- Nurse’s Bio
- Fulfilling a Mission
- Her Calling at Montreal
- Mance’s Inquiry
- Mance’s Fact or Bluff
- Their Reasons
- Building a New Colony
- Your Mission in Life
- Colony Supporters
- Celebrating Mance
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