DANEAU DE MUY, CHARLOTTE, dite de Sainte-Hélène, Ursuline, annalist; b. 23 Nov. 1694 at Boucherville (Que.), daughter of Nicolas Daneau* de Muy and Marguerite Boucher; d. 14 Sept. 1759 at Quebec.
In September 1700, when she was six years of age, Charlotte Daneau de Muy entered the Ursulines’ boarding-school at Quebec and stayed there for three years. On leaving she went to live with her grandfather, Pierre Boucher*, until she entered the noviciate of the Ursulines of Quebec on 21 Oct. 1716. On 21 Jan. 1717 she took the religious habit, having “received a dowry of 3,000 livres, her furniture, and her allowances”; she made her profession on 9 Feb. 1719.
The annals of the community remain silent about Charlotte de Sainte-Hélène’s activities in the convent except to stress that she was a “witty and able sister” and that she did not “spare her talents in supporting . . . the choir with her fine voice, or her skill in making fine works to decorate the churches.” In addition she had some literary gifts. But it was certainly not in her “Abrégé de la vie de Mme la comtesse de Pontbriand [Angélique-Sylvie Marot de La Garaye]” that she showed herself to best advantage. Indeed, the work, which was written from memory and from the unpublished account by Dom Trottier, prior of the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer (dept. of Côtes-du-Nord), France, belongs in the realm of old-fashioned hagiography, as unreal as it is boring. Her style was, however, of superior quality when she undertook to write the annals of the community during the Seven Years’ War. She describes events in such a spontaneous and natural manner that it is difficult to believe this is the same author who wrote the insipid account of Mme de Pontbriand’s life. In the annals her style is simple and correct; the account runs on without a stop for 24 pages and is sprinkled with sentences which convey the events vividly: “Never did God’s hand appear more obviously to humble the pride of a new Holofernes, in the person of General [Edward] Brad[d]ock, who expected to have breakfast at La Belle-Rivière, dinner at Niagara, and supper at Montreal. He lost his life and the greater part of his army” [see Daniel-Hyacinthe Liénard]. Shortly before the fall of Quebec the annalist added: “If the fact is certain, as there is reason to fear, the country is at a low ebb.” Seven lines later the author stopped writing, death having kept her from continuing.
Charlotte de Sainte-Hélène died on 14 Sept. 1759, just as the burial of Montcalm, whose victory at Carillon (Ticonderoga, N.Y.) she had celebrated, was taking place. She herself was buried in the Hôpital Général of Quebec, where from mid-July she had taken refuge with the Ursulines.
[The AMUQ holds the “Abrégé de la vie de Mme la comtesse de Pontbriand,” written by Charlotte Daneau de Muy, dite de Sainte-Hélène. The unsigned original of another biography of the Comtesse de Pontbriand is in the AD, Ille-et-Vilaine (Rennes), I H 5/31; a copy of it is kept in the ANQ and was published by P.-G. Roy in BRH, XVIII (1912), 202–10, 225–46, 257–80, 289–307, under the title “La vie de madame la comtesse de Pontbriand.” There are several variants between the AMUQ and ANQ manuscripts. g.l.]
AMUQ, Actes des professions et des sépultures, 1688–1781; Annales; Entrées, vêtures, professions et décès des religieuses, 1647–1861; Livre des entrées et sorties des filles françaises et sauvages, 1641–1720; Registre de l’examen canonique des novices, 1689–1807. Les Ursulines de Québec (1863–66).