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Special days to remember

Although cloistered until the 1960s, the Ursulines kept abreast of what was happening outside the walls of their monastery. All kinds of events that leave a mark on people’s lives—celebrations, invasions, technological developments, wars, official and state visits—touched the nuns’ lives as well. The nuns saved various items related to these events, providing a window on the history of Quebec.

Trestle table

Pine and iron
Artisan made
18th century
74 x 137 x 210 cm

This trestle table made of white pine was purchased in 1751 for the Ursulines’ laundry room. According to oral tradition James Murray, officer in the British army, is said to have sat at this table several times. After the capitulation of Quebec City in 1759, Murray was given the mandate to protect the city, still under the threat of a French attack. His military council began meeting at the Ursuline Monastery in Quebec City, which was still intact despite the bombings.

In 1763 Murray set up a court of law at the monastery to judge a well-known figure in Quebec City, Marie-Josephte Corriveau, nicknamed “la Corriveau.” Tradition has it that Corriveau’s sentence—declared guilty and condemned to death—was signed at this table. If only furniture could talk!


Paper, ink and wool
July 9, 1666
31 x 38 cm

Jean Talon, intendant of New France, had to settle disputes in the colony, like this one between the Ursulines and Mr. Marsolet, who laid claim to 24 acres that had been given to the Ursulines in 1647.

In 1666 Talon ruled that the Ursulines were indeed owners of the land in question.

Letters patent

Paper, ink and wax
February 20, 1639
44 x 56 cm

Signed by Louis XIII, King of France from 1610 to 1643, these letters patent granted the Ursulines “permission to establish a convent of Ursuline nuns and a seminary in New France to educate young [native] girls, as another one has already been established for boys.”

During the monastery fire of 1650, this precious document was barely saved from the flames by Marie of the Incarnation.

Ballot box and voting beans

Cardboard, paper, beans, ink and glue
Artisan made
10 x 11 x 18 cm

With the word “suffrages” (votes) printed on it, this ballot box was used to hold votes during the elections of new superiors or when important decisions were made for the community. Voting was done with beans—white for yes and black for no.

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