McLOUGHLIN, MARIE-LOUISE, named de Saint-Henri, Ursuline, teacher, and superior; b. 28 Aug. 1780 in Rivière-du-Loup, Que., daughter of John McLoughlin and Angélique Fraser; sister of John McLoughlin*; d. 4 July 1846 at Quebec.
Marie-Louise McLoughlin, the daughter of fervent Catholics, enjoyed a peaceful, happy childhood. When she was six, she made her first visit to her maternal grandfather, Malcolm Fraser*, the seigneur of Mount Murray. Delighted with her sweet manner, Fraser insisted on keeping her with him. He sent her to the best Protestant schools at Quebec and gave her every opportunity to broaden her knowledge and develop her talents.
When she was 15, Marie-Louise expressed a desire to attend the Ursulines’ boarding-school at Quebec, with the approval of her parents and her maternal grandmother, who was a Catholic herself. Her grandfather consented reluctantly, making it clear that he would go to the length of disinheriting Marie-Louise and her family if she were to adhere to Catholicism. To his great displeasure, during her first year at the school in 1795–96, she obtained religious instruction from Abbé Philippe-Jean-Louis Desjardins*, then chaplain of the Ursulines and the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec. She made her profession of faith and took her first communion when she was 16. Then, braving her grandfather’s retaliation, she entered the noviciate on 21 Nov. 1798 with the agreement of her family, who accepted the material consequences of this act. The following year, on the day she donned the habit, she took the name de Saint-Henri, and the officiating priest confirmed her. She made her vows on 18 Feb. 1800.
Marie-Louise de Saint-Henri, who was a fine English teacher, also learned to teach science under the aegis of Abbé Desjardins. She understood better than others the necessity of carefully preparing the young nuns who were planning to teach. As novice mistress from 16 Dec. 1811 to 15 May 1814, she arranged for them to be freed from various domestic tasks in order to be able to give them a better training through prayer, study, and reflection for their tasks as educators. Her enthusiasm worked wonders.
Marie-Louise de Saint-Henri held in turn the highest administrative posts in the convent, serving as bursar (15 May 1814 to 20 April 1818, 27 April 1824 to 26 April 1830, and 25 April 1836 to 24 April 1839), superior (20 April 1818 to 27 April 1824 and 26 April 1830 to 25 April 1836), and assistant superior (24 April 1839 to 25 April 1842). In these various capacities she directed the substantial advances in education made at the Ursuline school during the early decades of the 19th century. Possessing a remarkable sense of organization, she managed to stabilize the convent’s finances, which had been in a precarious state since the conquest. From 1837 until her death she was helped in this task by Thomas Maguire*, the community’s chaplain. In particular she undertook to put up an apartment building for rental purposes, had two apartments built for families of modest means, and put an addition on the chapel.
In the classroom the best teachers gave lessons to both the Ursulines and the pupils. The records list Frederick Glackemeyer and Stephen Codman for music, and James Bowman, who did Marie-Louise de Saint-Henri’s portrait, for painting. A steady stream of teaching materials was sent to her from Europe by her brother Dr David McLoughlin. In 1844, at the request of Archbishop Pierre-Flavien Turgeon* of Quebec, she agreed to undertake, with the help of Maguire, the drafting of the “Règlement des élèves du pensionnat des Dames Ursulines de Québec,” a rule designed to systematize existing practices in her teaching establishment, which was the largest in the colony. New ideas which Maguire had picked up during a stay in Europe were included in it. From then on teaching was to be based on such principles as the placement of pupils of similar ability in the same class and an increased emphasis on understanding rather than on memorization.
Marie-Louise de Saint-Henri’s zeal and high spirits suggested that she still had many years ahead of her when suddenly, at the age of 65, she passed away. She had held the office of zelatrice to the superior since 25 April 1842. A capable but also kindhearted woman, she had never forgotten the members of her family, and her many letters show how deeply she had shared in their worries and in their difficulties with their children’s education. She was mourned by her family and the community, and the friends of the convent eulogized her, paying tribute to her appreciation of culture, her business sense, and her rare qualities of heart.
ANQ-Q, CE3-3, 10 sept. 1780. Arch. du monastère des ursulines (Québec), Actes de professions et de sépultures, 1; Actes des assemblées capitulaires, 1; Annales, I: 397, 455–56, 462; II: 102, 113–14; Livre contenant les actes des assemblées capitulaires, 1802–42; Reg. des professions religieuses et des décès, 1778–1882. B. B. Barker, The McLoughlin empire and its rulers . . . (Glendale, Calif., 1959). Burke, Les ursulines de Québec, 3: 249, 397; 4: 455, 592. Glimpses of the monastery: scenes from the history of the Ursulines of Quebec during two hundred years, 1639–1839 (2nd ed., Quebec, 1897). P.-G. Roy, À travers l’histoire des ursulines de Québec (Lévis, Qué., 1939).