Why we came to Canada
Called by the Bishop Mgr Bourget in 1865, we began with the care of the youth and the elderly in Montreal. We developed two main apostolates, health care in hospices and psychiatric hospitals and education both normal teaching and special education for delinquants or retarded children.
The Brothers worked several decades in Montreal at Mont Saint Antoine and Hôpital Saint Benoît-Labre and they are still actively present in Rivière-des-Prairies and Saint-Sulpice (L’Assomption).
The Brothers have been teaching in several schools in Sorel, Drummondville, Quebec, St Georges de Beauce, Sherbrooke, Chicoutimi Lac Saint-Jean, etc.
(for more detailed history)
Mgr Bourget became bishop of Montreal and 1840 and recruited religious from Europe to guide the youth in Nouvelle France. Mr. Berthelet was a philanthrop dedicating his fortune to the delinquants, vagabonds and children at risk in the city. He built in 1859 the hospice of St-Anthony which was not going well. In 1864 Mgr. Bourget came to Belgium and wrote to Mr Berthelet: “I am pleased to inform you that the Divine Providence helped me to find in Ghent the kind of Brothers you need for the work you began to rescue the unlucky and most exposed for their eternal salvation. Those Brothers bear the name of Brothers of Charity….”
Meanwhile, Brother Gregoire, Superior general, was appointing brothers Eusebius, Sebastian, Edmond and Linus for the first mission outside of Belgium. They left Belgium on 6 February 1865 after a special mass celebrated in the Mother house. Through Ostende, Douvres, Liverpool they accosted in Portland, Maine. Due to abundant snow, the train took 22 hours to cover the 290 miles to Montreal. 22 hours without eating!
The Brothers took the direction of the Hospice St Anthony the 1st of March; it was the first day of Lent and they will struggle to survive with their young for the next 7 years. Bro. Sebastian cannot adapt and left for Belgium while Brother Linus was striken by cholera passing 13 months bedridden. Hopefully, Brothers Severin and Telesphore joined the group 10 months later.
The Brothers received more than 500 applications and Mgr Bourget launched a campaign to finance the construction of a new home for the elderly and the youth. In 1868 the Brothers and their protectees took possession of their new hospice Saint-Vincent-de-Paul where more than 400 could be sheltered.
Vocations came along; the first oblation was on 13 August 1866, the first profession the 9 September 1867 and on 24 February 1868 the community counted 9 brothers of whom 4 were young Canadian professed. Brother Eusebius had to go in Belgium to recruite other brothers. On 24 April 1868, Brothers Justinian, Constantine, Germain and Symphorian arrived in Montreal to help.
Many negociations were necessary for the Brothers to become the owners of the St-Vincent-de-Paul Hospice on 10 August 1870. The value was about $150 000 dollars. This meant that the Brothers were implanted in Quebec for good.
I.The works of the Brothers of Charity in Quebec
The main works of charity have been education, health care and missions.
The almoner of the Reformatory School negotiated with the Bishop and the Government to entrust the institution for delinquants to the Brothers of Charity. A contract was signed between the Brothers of Charity and the Government of the Province of Quebec in 1873 so that a first group of 74 young prisoners followed the day after by another of 64 were welcomed by the Brothers. Once again the history repeat and the Brothers free the young prisoners from their chains and begin their education for a new productive life. At the end of the month the delinquants were already 168. Despite painful beginnings the brothers gained the collaboration of the young and over the years thousand of them returned better prepared to fulfill their duty as honest citizens.
In 1932, after 59 years on Demontigny Street, the Brothers and their 400 boarders moved to the new Reformatory in the east of Montreal. In 1948 a Vocational School was added to the Reformatory and in 1962 the Board of Trustees of Mont-Saint-Antoine was founded. It built 16 pavillions with capacity for 24 residents each.
From 1874 to 1964, several Canadian Brothers worked in an orphanage in Boston (West Newbury). From 1928 to 1944 the two institutions took care for some 500 orphans.
B. Care for the sick:
1. Retreat St-Benoit
This work began in 1865 and knew full blossoming in 1884 with the inauguration of the new Retreat St-Benoit in the east of Montreal. Many elderly and sick people were cared for by the Brothers. A nursing school was even integrated in the hospital in the sixties.
2. Hospital of l’Annonciation
In 1960, 9 well qualified Brothers join the team to run the new hopital in the Laurentides with a capacity of 600 patients some of which are mentally ill.
3. Accueil Beaurivage
In Quebec, from 1970 and for two decades, the Brothers care for some 25 patients of the Psychiatric Hospital Robert-Giffard. At this moment the St-Alphonse Center is a therapeutic community.
Once services were provided in the reeducation and care of the sick and of the elderly the Brothers interessed themselves in the education of the youth at large.
1. In St-Ferdinand-of-Halifax
The Brothers took this boarding school in 1888 and left in 1896.
2. In Sorel
In 1897, the Brothers bought the Lincoln College and made of it the famous Commercial & Scientific Mont-St-Bernard College. From 1928 to 1962 the institution became a formation house for the Brothers (juniorate, novitiate, scholasticate). From 1909 on the Brothers directed two other schools: Academy of the Sacred-Heart, Mgr Desranleau and St-Maxime.
3. In Drummondville
Arrived in 1906 the Brothers built a commercial school running till 1924 to become a juniorate and a residence for the Brothers teaching in the city. Demolished in 1962 it was replaced by the modern College Saint-Bernard which is accomodating more than a thousand students. The Brothers have been ministering in the school Garceau, the St-Frederic Academic School till 1970 and schools St-Georges, St-Pierre and St-Philippe. Some Brothers were involved in special education and social work.
4. In St-Georges-de-Beauce
The Brothers directed schools since 1925 and were rewarded with many vocations in the region. In 1970 two brothers worked in special education at “Le Soleil de l’Enfance”.
5. Other schools were directed by the Brothers.
From 1913 to 1945 in St-Guillaume-d’Upton. From 1919 to 1947 in St-François d’Assise of Montreal, from 1947 to 1950, Ste-Ursule, from 1947 to 1964 in the Saguenay region: St-Fulgence (1947-1963), Hebertville-Station (1951-1964), St-Ambroise (1953-1964), St-Sulpice (1960-1967).
6. The novitiates
At the beginning the novices were at the St-Anthony, then Hospice St-Benoit in 1910, à Sorel in 1928, in Quebec (Beauport) in 1948 and finally in St-Sulpice. In the American District a novitiate was opened in 1935 north of Boston (Bellarica).
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CHRONOLOGY OF STE-ANNE REGION
1863. Mr. Berthelet addresses a request to the Superior General (Bro. Aloïse) for Brothers to work with elderly and orphans.
1864. Mgr Bourget passes by Belgium and obtains five brothers.
1865, 6 February: Departure from Ghent of Bros. Eusèbe, Sébastien, Edmond & Lin.
1865, 22 February: Arrival in Montreal.
1865. 1st of March: Beginning of St-Anthony Hospice.
1867, 9 September: First Canadian Brother Profession.
1868. Beginning of Hospice on Demontigny Street.
1868, Purchasing of a land in Longue-Pointe that will be used for Mont-Saint-Anthoine and Hospice St-Benoit.
1872. Building of classes and worshops for the Reformatory.
1872. 24 September: Death of Mr. Berthelet benefactor.
1873, Opening of the Reformatory with delinquants from the St-Vincent-de-Paul prison.
1874. Brothers: Justinien, Lin, Edouard, Michel, Thomas & Théodore leave Montreal for Boston.
1883, Blessing of the first stone of Hospice St-Benoit.
1884, Take over of Saint-Antoine orphanage in Detroit, Michigan, by 6 brothers (till 1887).
1886, Building of a wing for alcoholics in Hospice St-Benoit.
1888. Opening at St-Ferdinand d'Halifax till 1897.
1896. Purchasing of Mont Saint-Bernard, Sorel.
1902. Construction of a juniorate in Longue-Pointe.
1906, Construction and opening of College Saint-Frédéric in Drummondville.
1910, Construction of noviciate Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague in Longue-Pointe.
1913. Opening in Saint-Guillaume d'Upton till 1945.
1919. Opening School Curatteau, Montreal.
1925. Direction of a school in St-Georges de Beauce.
1928, College Mont-Saint-Bernard of Sorel transformed in a formation house.
1928, Opening in West Newbury for 200 children from Boston region.
1929. Opening of juniorate in West-Newbury, Mass.
1930. Brother Frémond, first Canadian appointed Provincial Superior.
1932. Transfert of Institute Saint-Antoine to Montreal East with name : Mont-Saint-Antoine.
1936, American noviciate in Billerica, Mass.
1940. Celebrations of 75th anniversary of the Brothers in Canada.
1945. The Brothers leave St-Guillaume d'Upton.
1947. The Brothers leave Saint-François-d'Assise, Montreal.
1947 Opening of St-Ursule.
1947 Opening in St-Fulgence, Chicoutimi.
1948. Purchasing of a house in Beauport from the White Fathers for novitiate.
1950 First Canadian Brothers to the mission of Cuba.
1962 First mission in Lima, Peru.
1970 Reconversion of the novitiate for a transition home for ex-psychiatric patients.
1970 Opening of CAPROL in Laval a sheltered workshop for mentally challenged people.
Some Brothers volunteer as missionaries in Rwanda till 1990.
1975 Br. Jules Lamothe opens the Phare in Rivière-des-Prairies for social promotion of underprivileged population.
1981 Br. Henri Bolduc goes to Papua New Guinea for three years. Bro. Roland Roberge and other Brothers welcome immigrants and refugees.
1983 Home for difficult children of Mont-Saint-Antoine mentally challenged.
1985 Direction and collaboration with a House for AIDS people on Fabre St. in Montreal.
2007Collaboratimon with the Fraternity St-Alphonse, Beauport.