“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

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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