About this Source of Information

The source of these documents.
In the 18th century, people who maintained a daily journal of their life in Canada were rare. Just as rare were the journals to which we were given access. Such is the case for the “Relation” of the Hospitaller Sisters of Saint-Joseph in Montréal. Marie Morin was the first annalist of the order, followed by Marie-Anne-Véronique Cuillerier, or sister Cuillerier (1680-1751).

Although the journal only tells of the daily life of the sisters of the Hospitaller order, entries here and there echo the events that unfolded outside the walls of their community.

Élisabeth Rocbert de La Morandière (better known as Madame Bégon), was one of the rare Canadian women to have left personal correspondence, which was addressed to her son-in-law, Honoré Michel Villebois de La Rouvillière.

Pehr Kalm was a botanist who visited Canada and a few English colonies in 1749. He left behind his travel notes, very rich in detail and in observations on nature and social life.

The purpose of these documents.
Writings by the Hospitaller sisters provide details on the fire and on their hospital, the Hôtel-Dieu of Montréal, which was located in front of the house that belonged to Thérèse de Couagne, widow Francheville. Without this extraordinary historical account of Nouvelle-France, and of the city of Montréal in particular, we could not possibly know the extent of the hardship that the fire caused in the daily life of this religious order and in the lives of all the citizens of Montréal.

Thanks to the journals of Pehr Kalm, we have a stronger image of daily life for all citizens in Montréal in the 18th century. Madame Bégon draws us into the reflections of a woman from the elite class in Montréal regarding her life and the world that surrounds her.

How to locate these documents.
The Hospitaller document is preserved in the Archives des Religieuses Hospitalières de Saint-Joseph de Montréal, “Les Annales de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal,” Orig. ms, 1A 4/3, Véronique Cuillerier 1725-1747. A faithful transcript, by Ghislaine Legendre, has been published in Écrits du Canada français, 42, Montréal, 1979, p. 149-192.

The correspondence by Madame Bégon was published in Rapport de l’archiviste de la province de Québec, 1934-1935 and more recently in a version annotated by Nicole Deschamps, Correspondance d'Élisabeth Bégon avec son gendre (1748-1753), published by Boréal in 1994. We have taken our transcript from the original document available at the Archives nationales du Québec, Fonds Famille Bégon (P2).

The Canadian portion of the written accounts by the Swedish botanist, Pehr Kalm, was translated and annotated, prior to being published at Éditions Pierre Tisseyre in 1977, by Jacques Rousseau and Guy Béthune under the title of Voyage de Pehr Kalm au Canada en 1749.