M990.786.20.1 | Habit of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame

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Nun's habit
Habit of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame
About 1940, 20th century
Gift of Musée du Château Dufresne
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Suit (38)
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Keys to History

This habit was worn by a Sister of the Congregation of Notre-Dame. The Congregation was founded in Montreal in 1652 by Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620-1700), who had come from France to the small settlement of Ville-Marie to establish a school. At that time there were few children to teach, so the Sisters helped the sick and needy.

From this modest beginning, the Congregation of Notre-Dame grew into a well-respected teaching order. Its convents educated many generations of Montreal girls. The Congregation purchased the estate known as "Monklands" in 1854, establishing it as the Villa-Maria Convent. The main building, built in 1804, has been declared a historic monument and currently houses a girls' school.

  • What

    Each religious congregation in Quebec had a different habit. The distinguishing characteristic of a habit was the headdress or coif, which was folded, draped or pleated differently by each congregation.

  • Where

    This habit was worn in Montreal by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame.

  • When

    The traditional form of the habit changed little after the 17th century, although some modern materials were incorporated.

  • Who

    The Sisters of Notre-Dame, leading groups of schoolgirls, were a familiar sight on Montreal streets for many years.