CUROT (Curaux), MARIE-LOUISE, dite de Saint-Martin, hospital nun of the Hôtel-Dieu in Quebec and superior; b. 27 Jan. 1716 in Montreal (Que.), daughter of Martin Curot, a storekeeper at Fort Frontenac (Kingston, Ont.), and Madeleine Cauchois; d. 18 Jan. 1788 at Quebec.
We do not know the circumstances which preceded Marie-Louise Curot’s entry into the convent of the Hôtel-Dieu in Quebec. Received into the noviciate on 3 Oct. 1736, she took the veil on 3 April 1737 and made her profession on 9 April of the following year. There is every indication that the Curot family, which included four daughters and three sons, was well educated and quite prosperous. Marie-Louise entered the convent with “her full trousseau” and her father provided 3,225 livres “in silver” for her upkeep and dowry.
Marie-Louise de Saint-Martin had the advantage, as a chapter member, of being introduced to the community’s affairs under the skilled guidance of Marie-Andrée Regnard* Duplessis, dite de Sainte-Hélène, before she assumed the chief administrative responsibilities. Her signature appears first in the “Actes capitulaires” on 2 Sept. 1748, in connection with a grant of land near the fortifications of the intendant’s palace. On 12 March 1759 she was elected senior hospital nun. The next year Vicar General Jean-Olivier Briand named her depositary for the poor and renewed her appointment in 1761 and 1762. The community’s business adviser in Paris, François Sorbier de Villars, mentioned the neatness of her written work and the accuracy of her accounts. The community, taking notice of these skills, on 9 Nov. 1762 elected her superior to succeed Marie-Ursule Chéron, dite des Anges, who had died in office. Forty-six years old, Marie-Louise de Saint-Martin became the youngest superior in the country. She was re-elected in 1765 for a second term and later served from 1771 to 1777 and from 1780 to 1786.
During her first 12 years as superior she worked hard to pay off the debt resulting from the rebuilding in 1757 of the convent-hospital, which had burned down in 1755. In 1760 there was still 100,000 livres owing. Marie-Louise de Saint-Martin’s exceptional ability and her unflagging efforts to restore her community to a sound financial position are clearly revealed in the annals, the deliberations of the chapter, the relations maintained with civil and religious leaders both in the colony and abroad, and above all in her regular correspondence with Sorbier de Villars. The required funds were secured through close attention to collecting rents, the sale of building sites in the town, the development of the seigneuries, the acceptance of boarders, and also through humble labour, such as the laundering of sacramental linen for the parish of Notre-Dame and the making of artificial flowers. In a letter dated March 1778 Sorbier de Villars expressed his pleasure at “the successful discharge” of the debts of the Hôtel-Dieu and praised the “sound administration” of Marie-Louise de Saint-Martin.
From 1759 to 1784 British forces occupied the wards of the Hôtel-Dieu, which became in effect a British military hospital. The sisters rarely served there since the occupation forces took care of their own sick. The alien presence did not, however, disrupt the monastic rule, and the superior’s correspondence with Governor Murray and with Hector Theophilus Cramahé suggests that cordiality and mutual respect were maintained between the community and its guests. In the spring of 1784 the troops were installed in barracks and the sisters were able to reopen their hospital, with the help of a public subscription [see Thomas-Laurent Bédard].
When Marie-Louise de Saint-Martin died on 18 Jan. 1788, the community paid her the following tribute: “a virtuous and very able nun . . . , she was sober, steadfast and gentle, impartial in her treatment of subordinates, discreet, of sound and enlightened judgement, indeed perfectly suited to rule; she has left a void deeply felt by the community which relied on her counsel.”
AMHDQ, Actes capitulaires, I; Annales, II; Bienfaiteurs, Papiers Curot; Chroniques, III, 1736; Corr., Évêques, J.-F. Hubert; Corr., Procureurs, B.-L. Villars; Élections triennales et annuelles, I, pp.145–93; Notices biographiques, M.-L. Curot; Registre des comptes du monastère, V, 15–17; Registre des dots, III, 1736. ANQ-M, État civil, Catholiques, Note-Dame de Montréal, 28 janv. 1716; Greffe d’Antoine Adhémar, 21 août 1713. ANQ-Q, NF 11, 62, f.168v; NF 25, 64, no.3904. Tanguay, Dictionnaire, III, 209. Casgrain, Hist. de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, 437ff. M. Trudel, L’Église canadienne, II, 255–87. [On p.263 the author confuses Marie-Louise Curot de Saint-Martin with Angélique Viger, who took Saint-Martin as her name in religion. c.g.]