I love Montreal. It reminds me of Philly. Old and New. Weird and wacky. As a bonus, it’s in Canada so you can find books, you can’t find in the United States.
My favorite place in Montreal (at least from the stand point of a non-resident who has been several times) is Notre-Dame de Bon Secours. Now, I know as a tourist, you are told to go to the big Notre Dame. Don’t get me wrong – that’s beautiful. Wonderful ceiling. But there is something about Notre –Dame de Bon Secours. Perhaps because it in its simplicity, it is more religious. It is more about faith than being impressive.
Or it could simply be because the founder was a woman who stood out from her times.
This is the second volume in what is, basically, a two volume biography of Marguerite Bourjeoys. It concerns her later years and ends with her death in 1700.
If you don’t know anything about Bourjeoys, let me point out a few things. She was born in Troyes, France. She, basically, became a nun, even though she didn’t join an order. She traveled to Montreal where she was to be a teacher, though that did not happen for several years. She founded an order whose main focus is teaching. She traveled back and forth to France from Montreal – by herself, something women really didn’t do. In fact, her order was uncloistered and its members would travel to teach – religion, housekeeping, reading, writing, and other skills.
Simpson’s prose is elegant and easy to read. She also places Bourjeoys in the context of her times. Therefore the Sister Tardy episode (a sister of the order claimed to have visions stating that Bourjeoys was not religious) is place in relation to massacre that occurred four months before.
Both books are biographies, so if you are not religious but interest in history, you can read them without being treated as a convert in the making. If you are religious, Simpson includes much about the history of religion in Montreal.
Visit the church and museum when you go to Montreal.