THE CARMELITE NUNS IN CANADA
In the same year that the Carmel of Montreal was founded (1875), three nuns from the Carmel of Baltimore began a foundation in Rimouski, Quebec, on the lower St. Lawrence River. However, insurmountable difficulties caused them to return to Baltimore two years later, in August 1877.
The Carmel of Montreal faced innumerable difficulties in the early years. Several young sisters died. If the foundation was to survive and prosper, the nuns realized that they would have to take the rugged climate of Canada into consideration. They adapted some ways of doing things, especially regarding diet and heat in the monastery. They also moved to a healthier situation, away from the damp riverbank.
The foundation did prosper and in time sent out three groups of nuns to found other monasteries. The first group went to St. Boniface, Manitoba, in 1912. However, financial difficulties caused the nuns to relocate to Trois Rivières, Quebec, in1929. In 1951, Quebec City was the site of the second foundation. This monastery is now located at Tewkesbury, Quebec. The third, following the Order’s missionary vocation, went to Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean.
The 1950’s saw the establishment of three more Carmels in Canada. Our own foundation was made from Cleveland Heights in 1952. In 1957, two communities of Carmelite nuns that had fled from Vietnam took refuge in Quebec. One settled in Danville, in the diocese of Sherbrooke, the other in Dolbeau-Mistassini in the diocese of Chicoutimi.
The next spurt of growth came in the early 1990’s. In 1991 our Carmel made a foundation in Armstrong, British Columbia. The Carmel of Hong Kong established a foundation in a temporary location in Markham, Ontario. They now have a beautiful permanent monastery near Zephyr, north of Toronto. The Carmel of Macao, from the former Portuguese colony of Macao, transferred to Spruce Grove, Alberta, near Edmonton.