Sisters of Charity
43 Bruyère Street
Written by Bytown Museum
In the winter of 1845, six nuns travelled by sleigh down the frozen Ottawa River from Montréal to Bytown. Led by Sister Elizabeth Bruyère, the Sisters of Charity, or Grey Nuns, as they were known, soon opened the frontier town's first public hospital, bilingual school and orphanage.
Two years later, a typhus epidemic ravaged the Canadas. The Sisters of Charity cared for over 600 victims of the epidemic in Bytown – 167 of whom died. Every one of the Sisters contracted typhus but, amazingly, none died.
In 1861, the Grey Nuns commissioned the construction of the Ottawa General Hospital in Lowertown. Today's General Campus of the Ottawa Hospital can trace its roots back to this early site. In addition, the Sisters of Charity continue to offer care through a series of health centres, including the Elizabeth Bruyère health centre in Lowertown, on the aptly named Bruyère Street.
From its very beginnings in 1826, Bytown (early Ottawa) was divided geographically, with Uppertown to the west of the Rideau Canal and Lowertown to the east. Lowertown, then ... read more