During Québec's Quiet Revolution, the government took over many of the services historically provided by religious communities. In the years that followed, the healthcare services once provided by the sisters to the public gradually shifted towards caring for their own aging community of sisters, leaving unoccupied space in the Mother House.
The community decided to make underused sections of the Mother House available to various charitable organizations providing services to meet the needs of the surrounding population. The basement level of the building’s west wing housed many social service projects to aid women of the broader Montreal community.
“We accepted women victims of family violence along with their children. That’s a good cause.”
Sister Cécile Castonguay
Among these were Interval, a collection of religious communities offering safe haven to women and children who were victims of domestic abuse. Bonjour Toi, a day-centre run by women volunteers, operated here from 1983 to 2007. And Maison Marguerite (named after the Grey Nuns’ founder) offered temporary shelter and counseling to homeless or transient women from 1977 to 2007. Today Maison Marguerite continues to operate in the Petite-Patrie neighbourhood of Montreal.
The sisters also collaborated with many charitable groups beyond the walls of the Mother House. In 1877, for example, the Grey Nuns helped convert a warehouse in Montreal’s Old Port (the order’s original neighbourhood) into Accueil Bonneau, a shelter and resource centre for homeless men that sustains Marguerite d’Youville’s charitable vision to this day.
ASGM G05_F Centre Bon Jour Toi,
Religieuses devant le centre, 1983.