Marie Louise VALADE (1809-1861)

Marie-Louise was born 26 December 1808 at Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Lower Canada to François Valade and Marie-Charlotte Cadotte (Cadot).

Marie-Louise entered the Hôpital Général of Montreal on 18 September 1826 and took her vows 21 October 1828. In 1843, she responded to Bishop Joseph-Norbert Provencher’s request to have the Grey Nuns found an establishment at Red River. Known as Mother Valade, she was proclaimed superior-foundress of the convent and given the responsibility for it.

Grey Nun

On 21 June 1844, Mother Valade and three other nuns reached Saint-Boniface after a 58-day canoe journey. In less than a month she had started two classes, arranged for one of the other nuns to visit the poor and sick at their homes and by the 31 December 1947 she set up her community in a three-storey house she had arrange to be built. This house became a refuge for orphans, aged and infirmed. To ensure the mission was self-sufficient she cultivated the land, manufactured material for clothes, bought a carding machine and tried to extract sugar from local beetroot and maples.

In 1849, Mother Valade made the arduous journey back to Montreal to appeal for more help and three novices and one nun responded. In 1850, she opened a school at Saint-François-Xavier. In 1850, she headed back east, accompanying Louis Riel, Daniel McDougall, and Louis Schmidt to schools in Lower Canada. In 1858, after travelling to Montreal she returned with three nuns and opened a school at Saint-Norbert and another at Saint-Vital in 1860.

Mother Valade was the guiding spirit of her house. With her commanding stature, she possessed both a dignity of bearing, and a great kindliness that won the hearts of all.

She died at Saint-Boniface on 13 May 1861 and was buried at Saint-Boniface. She left a well-organized house, three schools, and a staff of 21 nuns in charge of three infirmed old men, 31 orphans, 21 resident and 43 non-resident pupils.


  • Dictionary of Canadian Biography.


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