ASGM L082_14Y3 Maison mère, Sœur Eugénie Houde et Mme Quesnel, 1940.
The Grey Nuns relocated their main hospital from the Old Port farther inland in the late nineteenth century to make their services more accessible.
Though infirmary care comprised much of their work for the sick or poor, the nuns also provided ancillary professional services to their residents and outside communities. Sisters broke with gender conventions of the day to work as dentists within the Mother House, crafting dentures, filling cavities and extracting teeth.
ASGM L082_9Y20E Maison mère, Bureau
An on-site pharmacy similarly served the needs of both patients within the Mother House and the surrounding community. In 1902 alone, the Grey Nuns pharmacy filled over 24,000 prescriptions for distribution within the Mother House infirmaries and to poor families around Montreal.
Other services offered by the nuns included physiotherapy, hairstyling and pedicures, and the assignment of community wheelchairs.
ASGM L082_9Y21E Maison mère, Salle du rayon X, s.d.
Like the dormitories in the Mother House, separate infirmaries served different community populations within the building. Essentially modified sleeping quarters, infirmaries adhered to best practices of hospital care at the time. They housed fewer beds than regular dorm rooms and contained more ventilating windows where patients could benefit from sunshine. Just as important as the health of the patients’ bodies was that of their spirit: systems of balconies and galleries linked infirmaries to the chapel, allowing easy access to mass services.
ASGM L082_14Y1B Maison mère, Salle
des dames âgées, 1930.
“Early in the morning…[during the] noviciate…we would go make the beds for the elderly. That was the first thing we’d do, before heading off to mass. We got up, we went to pray, and then right after we would leave to go make beds the length of the corridor.”
Sister Paris Rollande
Infirmary Wing, also called the Administration Wing, included the traverse bridging the east side of the chapel to the building’s eastern wing. Here were located the nurses’ offices and other administrative spaces.
Concordia converted this corridor, now an offshoot of the Reading Room, into 14 private group-study rooms. Students in need of space for collective study make use of wall-mounted screens and white boards for conducting work here in serenity.