VALADE, MARIE-LOUISE, known as Mother Valade, Sister of Charity of the Hôpital Général of Montreal, founder and superior of the Sisters of Charity at the Red River mission; b. 26 Dec. 1808 at Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Lower Canada, eldest daughter of a farmer, François Valade, and Marie-Charlotte Cadotte (Cadot); d. 13 May 1861 at Saint-Boniface (Man.).
Marie-Louise Valade entered the Hôpital Général of Montreal on 18 Sept. 1826, and took her vows on 21 Oct. 1828. On 21 April 1838 she became one of the 12 administrators, and in October 1843 she was elected a depositary. That year, in response to Bishop Joseph-Norbert Provencher*, who sought to “obtain the services of nuns to give persons of the female sex a sound grounding in religion and those other subjects which might make them good mothers,” the Grey Nuns agreed to found an establishment at Red River. Mother Valade was given responsibility for it.
On 21 June 1844, after a long and arduous journey of 58 days in a bark canoe, Mother Valade and three other nuns reached Saint-Boniface. Twenty days later she started two classes, and entrusted her assistant, Sister Eulalie Lagrave, with the task of visiting the poor and the sick at home. She had a three-storey house built in which on 31 Dec. 1847 she set up her community. The house rapidly became a refuge for orphans, the aged, and the infirm.
The hard-working Mother Valade realized that in mission country self-sufficiency was necessary. She cultivated the land, thus improving the daily menu of dried meat; she manufactured material for clothes, and bought a carding machine, which she had adapted to Louis Riel’s “water power.” She even attempted to extract sugar from local beetroot and maples.
In 1849, because the west was not developed enough to ensure a sufficient number of religious vocations, Mother Valade undertook the long journey to Montreal for reinforcements. Three novices and one nun responded to her appeal, and in 1850 she was able to open a school at Saint-François-Xavier. Until this time all the houses of the Grey Nuns throughout Canada formed a single community. But in 1851 the first provincial council of the bishops of Quebec proposed that those in each diocese should form an independent community, and the second provincial council of Quebec, in June 1854, confirmed this decision. In Mother Valade’s eyes, this decree meant the death of the Red River house, whose members were recruited at the mother house in Montreal. She therefore supported Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Taché* in his efforts to check the disastrous effects of this decree. Finally, in 1858, with the help of Bishop Ignace Bourget*, they succeeded in reestablishing the union of the Red River and Montreal houses. Mother Valade, who had been invited to Montreal on this occasion, returned accompanied by three nuns. These fresh reinforcements made it possible to open a school at Saint-Norbert.
Mother Valade was the guiding spirit of her house. Of commanding stature, she possessed both a dignity of bearing, and a great kindliness that won the hearts of all. Worn out much more by illness, fatigue, and worries than by age, she died in her 53rd year. She left a well-organized house, three schools, including that of Saint-Vital, founded in 1860, and a staff of 21 nuns in charge of three infirm old men, 31 orphans, 21 resident and 43 non-resident pupils.
ANQ-M, État civil, Catholiques, Saint-Martin (Laval, Qué.), 16 févr. 1808. Archives des Sœurs grises (Montréal), Correspondance de Saint-Boniface; Minutes du Conseil général, I, ff.28v, 31, 42v, 53v–55, 57v–60v. Archives paroissiales, Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines (Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Qué.), Registres des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures, 27 déc. 1808. [J.-N. Provencher] “Lettres de Mgr Provencher à Mgr Ignace Bourget,” Les Cloches de Saint-Boniface (Saint-Boniface, Man.), XVIII (1919), 243–45, 263–65, 298; XIX (1920), 194–95, 219; XX (1921), 71–72, 114–15, 133, 150–52. Morice, Dict. historique des Canadiens et Métis, 307–9. Georges Dugas, Monseigneur Provencher et les missions de la Rivière-Rouge (Montréal, 1889), 209–10, 223–26, 269, 279. L’Hôpital Général des Sœurs de la Charité (sœurs grises) depuis sa fondation jusqu’à nos jours (3v. parus, Montréal, 1916– ), II, 203–36, 341, 380–81, 432–34; III, 24, 59–62, 86–90.