SOUMANDE, LOUISE, dite de Saint-Augustin, Religious Hospitaller, first superior of the Hôpital Général of Quebec; b. 16 May 1664 at Quebec, daughter of Pierre Soumande, master maker of edge tools, and of Simone Côté; d. 28 Nov. 1708 at Quebec.
At an early age Louise Soumande became a boarding pupil with the Ursulines, but she returned to her parents’ home around the age of 13. She formed a friendship with the son of a merchant from Blois, who had come to Canada on business. Father Chastellain*, her confessor, who wished her to give herself to God and who feared that “their ties would grow stronger,” persuaded her to enter the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec as a boarder, for God, he said, “wanted her entirely, without sharing her with anyone.” She made up her mind to this vocation on 19 March 1678, but did not intend to become a nun. The following November, however, she entered the noviciate. Two years later the community voted unanimously to allow her to take her vows. Louise Soumande was in turn Hospitaller, depositary for the poor, and assistant superior.
In 1693, following the founding of the Hôpital Général of Quebec, Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix] asked the Religious Hospitallers of the Hôtel-Dieu to supply four nuns to take charge of the new establishment. In addition to Louise Soumande de Saint-Augustin, the community chose Marguerite Bourdon de Saint-Jean-Baptiste and two other Hospitallers. On 26 June of the following year she was elected superior of the young community. She held her post until 1699, at which time she refused a second term. She agreed, however, to be mistress of novices.
In 1700, following the litigation over the advisability of establishing the Hôpital Général, Mother Saint-Augustin resumed charge of the community, for the titular superior, Marie-Gabrielle Denis de l’Annonciation, and two novices had to return to the Hôtel-Dieu until September 1701. In 1702 Mother Saint-Augustin again assumed the office of superior and remained in it until May 1708. On 28 November of the same year, when she was assistant superior and mistress of novices, she died after suffering violent headaches.
The Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec has a portrait of her, painted the day after her death by Michel Dessailliant.
Juchereau, Annales (Jamet). A. Roy, Inv. greffes not., VII, 89. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. Casgrain, Histoire de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, 321–33, 559–65. Monseigneur de Saint-Vallier et l’Hôpital Général de Québec, 114–200. Morisset, La peinture traditionnelle au C.f., 36. Les Ursulines de Québec, I, 521.