“Dominique, nique, nique s’en allait tout simplement”–The Pembroke Grey Nuns



Here is another group of photos I rescued from an auction. I could not figure out which group of nuns the woman in the centre belonged to but, Lise from Peche & Poivres in Almonte said it was definitely the Grey Nuns. So after looking through the other 30 photos in the family collection I think I have found her. Mary Malvina Cahill (1892 – ) Sister Austin; in 1925 at age 33 Mary took her vows and joined Sisters of St. Joseph of Pembroke. from the Pembroke Grey Nuns. Photo- Linda Seccaspina’s Photo Collection (Griffin McManus family)

Last year the Grey Sisters marked their  90th year in Pembroke. The nursing and teaching order, the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception established itself in Pembroke in 1926, taking charge of the Convent of Mary Immaculate, the Pembroke General Hospital (now the Pembroke Regional Hospital), the Continuation School in Eganville, St. Patrick’s Home in Ottawa and the General Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie. It later expanded into new areas, such as the Lorrain School of Nursing, Marianhill and Our Lady’s High School, now known as Bishop Smith Catholic High School.

The history of the Grey Sisters is as old as New France itself. It has its origins in the 1700s in the colony of Ville-Marie, located where present-day Montreal stands. This is the birthplace of Marie-Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais, better known as Saint Marguerite d’Youville, who with three companions founded the order in 1737. This was then known as the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, the Grey Nuns.

In 1845, 26-year-old Elisabeth Bruyere, a member of those Grey Nuns, arrived in Bytown, later Ottawa, with five companions to found the Grey Nuns of the Cross, now known as the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa. The Pembroke community came from this Ottawa foundation nearly 100 years later as one of its members Sister St. Paul, convinced of God’s call to begin a Canadian community of English-speaking women who shared in Saint Marguerite’s charism, established the congregation with the steadfast support of Pembroke’s Bishop Thomas Ryan.


Photo courtesy Grey Sisters/Pembroke Daily Observer/Postmedia Network Pembroke Regional Hospital had its beginnings in 1878 with this building, located at what is now 557 Pembroke Street East. It was later relocated to an expanded location at 695 Mackay Street, then to its current site at 705 Mackay. The hospital was one of the institutions which was taken over by the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception when they were founded in Pembroke in 1926.

She and 76 others thus founded the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in 1926.

Besides their duties in health and education in Pembroke, the Grey Sisters undertook service in many places throughout Canada and overseas, such as in China, Japan, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. For years, students and staff from the Catholic high schools in Pembroke and Renfrew have been participating in the Dominican Republic Experience, a yearly opportunity for them to experience the culture and the people while contributing to projects in that country. These days, the work of the Grey Sisters frequently involves partnering with others, supporting projects as volunteers, whether by serving on boards or by personal ministry, or providing financial assistance to enable work that us consistent with their charism and mission in the world.–By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer


Mary Malvina Cahill (1892 – ) Sister Austin; in 1925 at age 33 Mary took her vows and joined Sisters of St. Joseph of Pembroke.–Photo- Linda Seccaspina’s  Photo Collection-“Dominique with just one prayer–Made him hear the good Lord’s call”


Grey Sisters Cemetery
Pembroke–click here

Gravemarker Cemetery Album Effective – September 2006


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun



About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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