Our History




Walking in Élizabeth's Footsteps


Even though her religious name was Bruyère, she is the daughter of Charles Bruguier and Sophie Mercier.



She enters the Congregation of the Grey Nuns of Montreal.



She takes the habit of the Grey Nuns of Montreal.



Sister Élisabeth is strongly urged to found a religious community in Bytown, in Upper-Canada.  On February 19, she leaves with Sisters Éléonore Thibodeau, Rodriguez and Saint-Joseph as well as Elisabeth Devlin, a postulant and Mary Jones, an aspirant.  With her companions, she founds dispensaries, opens Catholic schools and orphanages, retreat houses and establishes the first hospital of Bytown.  This hospital will become the Ottawa General Hospital.  She is assisted by a team of physicians, among whom was Pierre Saint-Jean who will become mayor of Ottawa and member of the provincial legislature of Ontario. Upon their arrival in Bytown, Sister Élisabeth and her companions make home visits to the needy, given that this ministry is part of the works of the Grey Nuns.



Sister Élisabeth and her companions fight the typhus epidemic that ravages the region.



The community of the Grey Nuns of Bytown becomes autonomous.  In order to better serve the poor, the newborn community accepts to become detached from the community of Montreal. Mother Élisabeth Bruyère was then elected Superior General of the new congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa, and will be re-elected to this position until her death in 1876.


She dies in Ottawa on April 5, 1876 after 31 years of dedication to the population of Ottawa.


At the time of the death of the Founder, the statistics eloquently list the apostolic works: 23 active houses, 198 living Professed Sisters, 22 parochial schools, 10 boarding schools, 2 general hospitals, 3 homes for children, 3 homes for the elderly and 2 apostolic missions.


Bruyère Continuing Care, the former Ottawa General Hospital, bears her name in memory of her legacy.


Biographical illustration of Élisabeth Bruyère, Caring Woman, Daring Woman

Document: Parent, Huguette, sco,  One Form of Inculturation of the Charism of Charity in the Church  Élisabeth Bruyère (1818–1845-1876-1980) Translated by Pauline Leblanc, sco