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Women of New France

Marie de l’Incarnation

In the 1600s and 1700s, becoming a nun was an alternative to marriage and family for women. Women’s religious orders managed the colony’s schools and hospitals, providing the population with important services. The Ursulines are Catholic nuns dedicated to the religious education of young girls.
Marie de l’Incarnation led the first Ursuline nuns to Québec City in 1639, where they started a school for French and Indigenous girls. Three Augustine nuns accompanied the Ursulines to Québec. They founded Canada’s first hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu.

Click on the objects below to learn more about religion and medicine in New France.