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History of the Émilie-Gamelin Province

The Sisters of Providence congregation was founded by Émilie Tavernier-Gamelin in Montreal in 1843.

The community was not immediately divided up into Provinces (regions). Over the years, the provinces developed as a result of shifting demographics, the Congregation’s number of works and changing needs.

Up until 2005, there were four provinces for Quebec, the Eastern United States, Cameroon, Haiti and Egypt. Since 2005, these have come together under the name Émilie-Gamelin Province for the same territory. The Sisters pursue their founder’s mission through various works based on the needs of their community.

Biography of Émilie Tavernier-Gamelin

1800: Émilie Tavernier is born, the youngest of 15 children. Her family lives on a plot of land called Terre Providence in Montreal’s north end. Early on, her parents initiate her love for the poor.

1823: Émilie marries Jean-Baptiste Gamelin. They share a common interest and love for the poor. Unfortunately, this happiness does not last long. Their first two children die three months after birth.

1827: Jean-Baptiste Gamelin dies. On his deathbed, he entrusts Émilie with the care of an intellectually disabled adolescent that he had cared for and that they had adopted as their son. This young boy will become the cornerstone of Émilie Tavernier-Gamelin’s charitable work.

1828: Émilie’s third child dies at the age of 21 months. In less than five years, Émilie has lost everything.

1828-1843: As a widow, Émilie finds strength and consolation in Mary, Mother of Sorrows. She becomes “providence” for the poor: she visits the poor and political prisoners, welcomes sick and elderly women into her home and opens homes in response to various needs. A prominent figure in Montreal in the 19th century, Émilie Tavernier-Gamelin marks her era by organizing charity in the growing metropolis.

1843: Institut de la Providence is founded by Mgr. Ignace Bourget, Bishop of Montreal, and Émilie Tavernier-Gamelin.

1844: Sister Émilie Tavernier-Gamelin and six novices take their vows to enter the Community. Émilie becomes the first Superior of the Congregation at age 44.

1851: On September 23, 1851, Émilie Tavernier-Gamelin falls victim to the cholera epidemic, leaving a legacy of her great love for the poor. Her work will continue to grow.

Providence in action