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GOSSELIN, SCHOLASTIQUE, Grey Nun of Montreal, missionary; b. 11 June 1806 at Sainte-Famille, Île d’Orléans, L.C., daughter of Joseph Gosselin, farmer, and of Josephte Pageot; d. 5 Oct. 1876 at Saint-Boniface, Man.

Scholastique Gosselin received a good education as her elegant writing shows. She entered the Congregation of the Grey Nuns of Montreal and took her vows on 8 July 1828. After making her profession, she was for 18 years in charge of the education and care of orphans at the mother house. In 1844 the Grey Nuns of Montreal, in response to the request of Bishop Joseph-Norbert Provencher*, founded their Red River mission. Sister Gosselin joined the third group of nuns nominated to it. She set out from Montreal on 10 July 1846 and travelled, by steamboat and railway, via Lake Ontario to Buffalo, Detroit, and Chicago. From Chicago the last stage was covered in what were known as prairie wagons. The party reached its destination on 5 September.

When Sister Gosselin arrived the community was still in its heroic period. The sisters, lodged at Saint-Boniface in a small tumble-down house where everything froze hard in winter, had to adapt themselves to a pioneer’s existence, tilling the fields and weaving their clothes. They had already begun to educate Indian children; they travelled about the countryside to help the poor and care for the sick, some of whom were brought under their roof, where the sisters organized a small hospital. For her part, Sister Gosselin was responsible for domestic matters at the bishop’s palace and for the upkeep of the cathedral sacristy. When the cathedral burned down in December 1860 she displayed remarkable coolness; making her way three times into the flaming building, she managed to save the sacred vessels.

Sister Gosselin’s courage is also revealed by her correspondence; speaking of difficult days, she wrote: “. . . I did all I could to appear cheerful.” As a counsellor, Sister Gosselin assisted the superior and also took part in the expansion of the Red River mission; she was closely associated with the founding of the boarding-schools of Saint-Boniface (1849), Saint-François-Xavier (1850), Saint-Norbert (1858), and Saint-Vital (1860), and of the Saint-Boniface hospital (1871). When a septuagenarian, she was still said to be “the most sprightly of them all.” On 5 Oct. 1876, pleurisy terminated her 30 years of missionary life. Sister Gosselin was buried at Saint-Boniface.

Léonie Ferland

Archives paroissiales de Sainte-Famille, Île d’Orléans, Registres des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, 1806, B, no.7. ASGM, Ancien Journal, II, 132; Chapitre des fondations, 1843–1872, 17; Chroniques de Saint-Boniface, I, II; Correspondance de Saint-Boniface, 147, 224, 246, 256, 260; Registre des admissions, vêtures et professions, I, f.27. Morice, Dict. hist. Can. et Métis, 125–26. David Gosselin, Figures d’hier et d’aujourd’hui à travers Saint-Laurent, I.O. (3v., Québec, 1919), II, 18–19. Raoul Raymond, “Gosselin,” SGCF Mémoires, XIII (1962), 243.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Léonie Ferland, “GOSSELIN, SCHOLASTIQUE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 10, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed August 27, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gosselin_scholastique_10E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gosselin_scholastique_10E.html
Author of Article: Léonie Ferland
Title of Article: GOSSELIN, SCHOLASTIQUE
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 10
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1972
Year of revision: 1972
Access Date: August 27, 2014