Skip links

Back to the Virtual Gallery

Relations and Communications

Caring and capable women

When they arrived in New France, the Ursulines began forming relationships with the local authorities, Jesuits and settlers. They also welcomed Abenaki, Algonquin, Wendat, Montagnais, Haudenosaunee and Nipissing boarding students.

In addition to writing tens of thousands of letters to maintain these relationships, Marie of the Incarnation learned the Algonquin and Iroquois languages to help carry out her apostolate. Whenever difficulties arose (fires, conflicts, epidemics and so forth), the nuns called upon their network of contacts to help them reestablish their institutions, and then help them flourish. They returned the favor whenever the opportunity presented itself. For almost four centuries their relationships with political and military authorities, civic and religious organizations, and merchants, as well as artists and artisans from here and afar, attested to their commitment to mutual assistance.

Mi’kmaq-inspired box

Bark, porcupine quills, spruce root, wood and dye
Artisan made
19th century
9 x 16 x 14 cm

Made of birch bark, stitched with spruce root and decorated with porcupine quills, this box is an expression of the relations between the Ursulines and the First Nations people. Beautiful colors embellish the quills, which are dyed with various natural pigments.

Commemorative handkerchief

Silk and ink
Simons & Minguy, Quebec City
44 x 47 cm

This silk handkerchief commemorates the official visit of Prince Albert, the future King George V, who visited Quebec City on the occasion of the city’s 300th anniversary in July 1908. When the prince arrived on board the HMS Dreadnought, a considerable crowd had gathered at the Queen’s Wharf to give the representative of the British Crown an enthusiastic welcome.

This handkerchief is one of the different objects and documents saved by the Ursulines as souvenirs from the grand celebrations they were involved in. During the great historical reconstruction presented on the Plains of Abraham (the highlight of the festivities), one of the thirteen paintings on display depicted their arrival as well as that of the Augustines in 1639. 

The handkerchief is from Simons & Minguy, a Quebec City company founded in 1840, which has since become La Maison Simons. As seen on the handkerchief, the company was located at 20 Fabrique Street, where it still stands today.

Commemorative plaque

Copper and wood
Industrial manufacture
34 x 50 cm

Thousands of plaques identical to this one, with both French and English versions, were sent to schools across the country to celebrate Canada’s 60th anniversary. The plaque depicts the arms of Canada surrounded by maple leaves.

Shipping box

Wood, iron and ink
Dieppe, France
17th century
24 x 54 x 43 cm

This shipping box is testament to the relations between the Ursulines in Quebec City and the Ursulines in Dieppe. One of the two Ursulines who travelled to New France with Marie of the Incarnation was from the convent in Dieppe. This parcel most likely contained items purchased by the French nuns for their fellow sisters in Quebec City.

“Kebek,” the Algonquin word from which the name Quebec originates, is written on the lid of the box.

Return to top of page