The Grey Nuns are a Canadian order of Catholic sisters founded in 1738 in Montreal. The St. Boniface Museum tells the story of the Grey Nuns in Manitoba and is located in their former convent. It was built in 1847 and is the oldest building in Winnipeg.
Four sisters from the Order of the Grey Nuns in Montreal came to the Red River Settlement in Manitoba in 1844. They travelled by canoe. Their fifty-eight-day journey was a difficult one involving endless portages through the bush in almost constant rain. Snakes plagued their night time camps.
Once they arrived in the Red River Settlement, the Grey Nuns opened a school. Louis Riel the founder of Manitoba was one of their students and they arranged for him to study at a college in Montreal. Louis Riel’s sister Sara Riel would eventually join the Grey Nuns order.
Sister Teresa McDonnell was a Grey Nun who won the hearts of the Metis community because her remedies cured many of their illnesses. Sister Theresa founded the St. Boniface Hospital.
The Grey Nuns provided important health care and education opportunities in the early years of the Red River Settlement.