BRUNET, dit L’Estang (L’Étang), VÉRONIQUE, named Sainte-Rose (she signed Verronique Létant), sister of the Congregation of Notre-Dame and superior (superior general); b. 13 Jan. 1726 in Pointe-Claire (Que.), daughter of Jean Brunet, dit L’Estang, and Marguerite Dubois; d. 12 June 1810 in Montreal, Lower Canada.
Véronique Brunet, dit L’Estang, came from one of the eight families named Brunet that immigrated to Canada during the second half of the 17th century; three of these added the names L’Estang, Bourbonnais, and Bellehumeur. Véronique entered the noviciate of the Congregation of Notre-Dame in Montreal in 1744 and made her profession two years later under the name of Sister Sainte-Rose. She then went as a missionary in turn to the Lower Town in Quebec, Pointe-aux-Trembles (Neuville), and Sainte-Famille on Île d’Orléans. She was back in Quebec when the town was captured by the British in 1759; at that time, it is reported, she was advised “to remain hidden as far as possible because of her great beauty and . . . other visible charms,” lest in walking about town as usual she attract the attention of the strangers, in whose presence people did not always feel safe.
In 1771 Sister Sainte-Rose was called back to the house in Montreal to assume the office of assistant to the superior, Sister de l’Assomption [Marie-Josèphe Maugue-Garreau*]. The following year she became superior. The community was then facing numerous financial difficulties, largely because of the political events of the previous two decades and a fire in 1768. The new superior strove to increase the community’s resources by assigning more sisters to such moneymaking projects as church repairs, laundering, and embroidery. In 1773 the sisters were able to take advantage of the housing of the Collège Saint-Raphaël in the Château de Vaudreuil [see Jean-Baptiste Curatteau*] to acquire supplementary income: they puttied most of the casement windows and made the bulk of the aiguillettes worn by the schoolboys.
The missions also were feeling the effects of the difficult times. The Lac-des-Deux-Montagnes (Oka) mission, where the sisters’ work had been supported until the conquest through a royal gratuity of 3,000 livres annually, was maintained after 1760 solely through private grants, particularly those from the generous missionary François-Auguste Magon* de Terlaye. Sister Sainte-Rose solved the financial problem by signing an agreement with the Sulpician seminary on 14 July 1772. In return for performing specific tasks, the foremost being teaching in the mission’s schools for girls, the sisters were to receive from the seminary 200 piastres a year and certain goods in kind: the pure wheaten flour and the bran from 45 bushels of wheat, 12 cords of sound wood, hay for feeding 2 cows over the winter, and free pasture during the summer. However, the community’s poverty prevented the mother house from offering direct financial assistance to the missions, even in the most difficult situations. Thus, when in 1776 the sisters at the Pointe-aux-Trembles mission had to rebuild their convent, which had been destroyed by the American troops under Benedict Arnold after the attack on Quebec, they admitted to Bishop Briand* of Quebec that they were undergoing many privations in order not to ask for anything from the community, “which was itself very hard up.”
In 1778, when her term as superior came to an end and Marie Raizenne, named Saint-Ignace, took office, Sister Sainte-Rose was elected mistress of novices; she held this post until 1784, when she again became superior. By then the colony as a whole was benefiting from the state of peace. Boarding pupils were returning to Montreal in numbers and, following a decision of the council on 20 Sept. 1786, the superior sent away the day-boarders whom the community had resigned itself to taking in 1771. Relieved of the heavy financial worries that had marked her first term as superior, Sister Sainte-Rose gave her attention to clarifying certain points in the rule that concerned, among other things, the vow of permanence and the status of the sisters who did the rough work. Few changes were instituted in the missions. The one in Lachine, where the convent was falling into ruin and had few pupils, moved to Pointe-Claire in 1784. The Champlain mission near Trois-Rivières, which had been forced to suspend work three times since its founding in 1676 and which was experiencing problems similar to those in Lachine, closed down permanently in 1788.
After leaving the superiorship in 1790 Sister Sainte-Rose became assistant mistress of novices and for two years served as first counsellor. As well, she turned to giving religious instruction to Montreal girls who lacked the time and means to attend regular classes; in this way she took part in the congregation’s efforts to offer “adult education,” a service for which modern democratized education would like to claim the credit. Towards the end of her life she devoted her energies to washing and mending the clothes of the servant girls whom the community employed for meagre wages and supplied with their keep. Sister Sainte-Rose, who had twice been superior general of the community, attended to these tasks until her long life came to an end in 1810, after 66 years in the Congregation of Notre-Dame.
ANQ-M, CE1-37, 14 janv. 1726. Arch. de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame (Montréal), Fichier général; Personnel, V; Reg. général. Archange Godbout, “Nos ancêtres au xviie siècle,” ANQ Rapport, 1957–59: 393. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, 1: 94–95; 2: 496, 500; 5: 373–74. Lemire-Marsolais et Lambert, Hist. de la CND de Montréal, 5; 6: 205–6. Trudel, L’Église canadienne, 2: 338, 340, 347.