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GAUDRY, JULIE (baptized Julie-Marguerite Gaudri), Sister of Charity of the Hôpital Général of Montreal; b. 22 June 1831 in Montreal, daughter of Augustin Gaudri, a tailor, and Marguerite Perrault; d. there 18 April 1910.

From 1837 to 1844 Julie Gaudry lived in the United States with the rest of her family and during this time she became fluent in English. She returned to Montreal when her uncle, Augustin Perrault, paid for her to study briefly at the boarding-school of the Congregation of Notre-Dame in 1844 and then with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in Longueuil from 1845 to 1847. She applied for admission to the Grey Nuns, as the Sisters of Charity of the Hôpital Général of Montreal were also known, in April 1849. After taking her vows in June 1851, she participated in the sisters’ work in various capacities. She was in charge of the room for pre-school children at St Patrick’s Orphan Asylum that year and of the services to the poor at the mother house in 1852. In 1854 she was founder, superintendent, and “bookkeeper” of the Hospice Saint-Joseph in Montreal.

At the prompting of Sulpician Benjamin-Victor Rousselot*, Sister Gaudry opened a children’s shelter attached to the Hospice Saint-Joseph in September 1859. There she set up the pedagogical and institutional framework for the children’s shelters that soon became a regular part of the assistance offered by the Grey Nuns to the people of Montreal, especially the working class. She kept a daily record of her experiences entitled “Journal de la salle d’asile Saint-Joseph 1859–1902.” This important 237-page manuscript is filled with information about the operations, objectives, and daily life of the shelter, which was an early forerunner of the modern day-care centre. There were usually more than 200 children being cared for, either because their mothers were at work or because there was not enough room for them at home. Ranging in age from two to seven, the boys and girls memorized various “numbers,” songs, and fables that gave them some notion of religion, arithmetic, and geography, and they took part all day in activities “suited to the intellectual, moral, and physical needs of children.” In 1900 there were five such shelters in Montreal: Saint-Joseph (1859), Nazareth (1861), Bethléem (1868), Saint-Henri (1885), and Sainte-Cunégonde (1889). They took in nearly 2,000 children every day. Sister Gaudry was the moving spirit behind this work, organizing bazaars and visits to raise money for its support as well as directing the pedagogical exercises so well described in her journal.

From 1871 to 1877 Sister Gaudry received orders on a number of occasions to move to other points in Canada and the United States, including Lawrence, Mass., where she was the superior of an orphanage, the Protectory of Mary Immaculate. In 1878, under the name of Sister Margaret and with the permission of the bishop of Boston, she undertook to raise money in the Salem area to pay off the $47,000 mortgage on the orphanage that had been set up in that city. Over a ten-year period she kept a notebook meticulously recording the results of her fund-raising efforts: the sum came to $45,973.62. In 1885 alone, she collected $8,141.45. She was renowned for her “marvellous skill” and her “powers of speech.”

On her return to Montreal in 1887, Sister Gaudry worked in the Saint-Joseph shelter, but she left again to take up new responsibilities in Massachusetts from 1891 to 1894. In 1894 at the age of 63, she returned to “her” shelter, where she continued to direct the children’s activities and keep her journal. She stayed there until the building was demolished in 1902. In June 1901 her golden jubilee had occasioned a community celebration that was reported in the newspapers: Sister Gaudry had become a well-known personality on the Montreal scene. The fact that Archbishop Paul Bruchési* of Montreal had, as a child, been under her care at the shelter no doubt enhanced her fame.

Julie Gaudry retired to the mother house in poor health in 1907. She died on 18 April 1910, following a short illness. After her death the work of the children’s shelters gradually changed and they became schools or orphanages. Economic developments affecting the city were certainly a factor in this change, but it may be assumed that the passing of the founder had something to do with it as well.

Micheline Dumont

ANQ-M, CE1-51, 22 juin 1831. Arch. des Sœurs Grises (Montréal), Chroniques, II (1881–83): 555; Fonds de l’Asile Saint-Joseph, hist., reg., Julie Gaudry, “Journal de la salle d’asile Saint-Joseph 1859–1902”; Fonds de l’Orphelinat de Salem, calepin des quêtes de Julie Gaudry; Fonds Julie Gaudry, notice nécrologique, extrait de baptême, obédiences, lettre de Mgr Paul Bruchési. LOrdre (Montréal), 22 août 1860: 1. La Presse, 23 mars 1898, 11 nov. 1899, 1er juill. 1901. La Semaine religieuse de Montréal, 7 févr. 1891: 98–99; 8 août 1891: 117–18. Micheline Dumont, “Des garderies au 19e siècle: les salles d’asile des sœurs grises à Montréal,” Maîtresses de maison, maîtresses décole: femmes, famille et éducation dans lhistoire du Québec, sous la direction de Nadia Fahmy-Eid et Micheline Dumont (Montréal, 1983), 261–85. Journal de lInstruction publique (Québec et Montréal), 2 (1858): 184–85; 3 (1859): 162–63.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Micheline Dumont, “GAUDRY, JULIE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 2, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gaudry_julie_13E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gaudry_julie_13E.html
Author of Article:   Micheline Dumont
Title of Article:   GAUDRY, JULIE
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 13
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1994
Year of revision:   1994
Access Date:   June 2, 2023