BOULLONGNE (Boulogne, Boulonge, Boullogne, Boulongue), MARIE-BARBE DE, wife of Governor Louis D’Ailleboust, co-founder of the Confrérie de la Sainte-Famille at Montreal, benefactress of the Hôtel-Dieu at Québec; b. c. 1618 at Ravières (Champagne), daughter of Florentin de Boullongne and Eustache Quéan; d. 1685 at Quebec.
Nothing is known about Barbe de Boullongne’s youth. On 6 Sept. 1638, in Paris, she married Louis d’Ailleboust, the future governor of New France. They had no children; according to a tradition, they had taken the vow of continency.
At the beginning of her marriage she was a timid, sickly young woman; she would have been unable to bring herself to follow her husband, who was determined to go to New France, had it not been for a cure considered to be miraculous, which put matters right and gave a new direction to the guidance being offered by their spiritual counsellors, in particular Charles Lalemant and Jean-Jacques Olier. From then on Barbe de Boullongne’s history is associated with that of her husband.
Once already, after her marriage, and with her husband’s consent, she had had a taste of religious life among the Ursulines of Quebec, where her sister Philippine-Gertrude de Saint-Dominique lived. But this experiment, which was tried in January 1653, had lasted only a month. Her thoughts turned again in this direction, this time more seriously, after her husband’s death in 1660. The management of her property prevented her from taking any action until 1663. But having by then settled all her affairs at Montreal, she re-entered the Ursuline noviciate, at 45 years of age. According to Les Ursulines de Québec she could not get used to the rules; she realized this and withdrew of her own accord after eight or nine months, in order “to resume in the world her life of good works and edification.” Subsequently she turned down a number of splendid offers of marriage. Jeanne-Francoise Juchereau*, dite de Saint-Ignace, states that she was sought in marriage by Governor Rémy de Courcelle, and especially by Intendant Talon, who lavished attention upon her. But she was detached from the world and thenceforth given up entirely to charity and piety.
The principal work associated with her name, as with Father Chaumonot’s, is the establishment of the Confrérie de la Sainte-Famille. It was founded at Montreal during the years 1662–63, and afterwards established at Quebec, where it received the approval of Bishop Laval* in a pastoral letter of 4 March 1665, after being honoured, in the month of January, by a special bull, and endowed with indulgences by Pope Alexander VII.
Mme d’Ailleboust, who was dedicated to the sick in the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec, gave herself to this institution by notarial contract on 5 July 1670, together with her remaining possessions; she spent the rest of her days in a small house adjoining the hospital, in the company of a shrewish old servant whom she had kept with her purely out of a spirit of self-mortification. She died as a predestinate on 7 June 1685, and was buried in the original nun’s chancel. The Hôtel-Dieu still preserves her family papers, as well as certain other mementoes, and still calls her “our benefactress.”
According to the 1647 Relation Mme d’Ailleboust took an interest in the natives, had studied their languages, and is supposed to have received from the Algonkins the name Chaouerindamaguetch, meaning “She who takes pity on us in our wretchedness.”
AHDQ, Papiers d’Ailleboust. AJQ, Greffe de Gilles Rageot, 5 juillet 1670. ASQ, Documents Faribault, 83b; Polygraphie, II, 10; III, 41; XXII, 61b, 61d; Séminaire, VI, 22, 51, 52c. [P.-J.-M. Chaumonot], Un missionaire des Hurons: autobiographie du père Chaumonot de la Compagnie de Jésus et son complément, éd. Félix Martin (Paris, 1885). JR (Thwaites), passim. JJ (Laverdière et Casgrain). Juchereau, Annales (Jamet), La solide dévotion à la Très-Saint Famille, de Jésus, Marie, et Joseph, avec un catéchisme qui enseigne à pratiquer leurs vertus (Paris, 1675). Marie-Claire Daveluy, “Bibliographie,” RHAF, XV (1961), 146–54, 466–72, 611, 612. Aegidius Fauteux, La famille d’Aillebout (Montréal, 1917). Ernest Gagnon, Feuilles volantes et pages d’histoire (Québec, 1910). Honorius Provost, “La réserve de M. d’Ailleboust à Québec,” BRH, LIII (1947), 178–87. Régis Roy, La famille d’Ailleboust (Montréal, s.d.). Les Ursulines de Québec, I, 259–61.