Collection F01-S113 - Community Histories collection

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Community Histories collection

General material designation

  • Multiple media

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  • Source of title proper: Title is based on the contents of the series.

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Reference code

CA ON00279 F01-S113

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1869-2013 (Collection)
    Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada (London, Ont.)

Physical description area

Physical description

23.5 cm of textual records
33 photographs : b&w
4 photographs : col.
17 photographs : col. negatives

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Archival description area

Custodial history

Scope and content

This is a collection of histories and reference material, including publications and photocopies of historical documents and correspondence, created and collected by the Sisters illustrating the foundation and history of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of London, Ontario. Topics range from the founding of the religious order of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Le Puy, France by Father Jean Pierre Médaille in 1648 to the activities of the Sisters of St. Joseph in the diocese of London, Ontario from their foundation to the early 2000s. A major focus of the material is on the founding of the Sisters of St. Joseph of London as a branch of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto and the establishment of an independent congregation. Many of the Sisters wrote accounts, chronicles, booklets, and essays on their history, some of which were published. Drafts and published versions of these writings are included here alongside histories written by those from outside the congregation. There are also various photocopies of records from the late 1800s related to the early history of the Sisters. This includes publications on their history, correspondence about establishing the community (though there are also some original correspondence), Acts of Profession, Acts of Reception, the 1871 Act of Incorporation and the 1915 and 1938 amendments. There are, however, original documents from the late 1800s and early 1900s as well, such as photographs of Sisters, “History of the Sisters of St. Joseph,” (which was written at Sacred Heart Convent, London), and an excerpt from a manuscript by Bishop R. H. Dignan. The approbation decree and pontifical rights from the Holy See in Rome for Sisters of St. Joseph of London’s are also present. The material in this collection also includes photographs, postcards, a photo album, and news clippings.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

These records were collected by the archivist.


Order imposed by the archivist.

Language of material

  • English
  • French

Script of material

    Language and script note

    While primarily in English, some of the records are in French.

    Location of originals

    The records are located at The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada Archives.

    Availability of other formats

    Restrictions on access

    Some material in files F01-S133-01-01 and F01-S133-05-04 are restricted to public access.
    The Archives reserves the right to restrict access to the collection depending on the condition of the archival material, the amount of material requested, and the purpose of the research. The use of certain materials may also be restricted for reasons of privacy or sensitivity, or under a donor agreement. Access restrictions will be applied equally to all researchers and reviewed periodically. No researcher will be given access to any materials that contain a personal information bank such as donor agreements or personnel records, or to other proprietary information such as appraisals, insurance valuations, or condition reports.

    Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

    Permission to study archival records does not extend to publication or display rights. The researcher must request this permission in writing from the Archives.

    Finding aids

    Series and file list available.

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    No further accruals are expected.

    General note

    In 1650 the Sisters of St. Joseph began in Le Puy, France, founded by Father Jean Pierre Médaille and six women who dedicated their lives to serving those in need. Mother St. John Fontbonne re-established the congregation in Lyon, France in 1808 after the French Revolution. The Sisters came to North America in 1863 where they established the first congregation in St. Louis, Missouri with the assistance of Mother Delphine Fontbonne who would go on to establish the congregation in Toronto, Ontario in 1851. The London congregation was founded as a branch of Toronto in 1868 when, at the request of Bishop John Walsh, Mother Teresa Brennan, Sister Ignatia Campbell, Sister Ursula McGuire, Sister Francis O’Malley, and Sister Appolonia Nolan, accompanied by Reverend Mother Antoinette McDonald, arrived in London to tend to the sick, poor, orphaned, elderly, and imprisoned and serve as educators. The Sisters lived at 170 Kent Street until October of 1869 when the Barker House bounded by Grosvenor, Burlington (now Richmond), St. George, and Thomas (now College) Streets was purchased. It was renamed Mount Hope and was the Sisters’ first official motherhouse. It would later also be an orphanage and home for the aged. On December 18, 1870, the Sisters of St. Joseph of London became an autonomous congregation in the Diocese of London with Mother Ignatia Campbell as General Superior. On February 15, 1871, the congregation became legally incorporated.

    The Sisters founded several healthcare institutions in Ontario. In London, they founded St. Joseph’s Hospital in 1888, followed by the opening of St. Joseph’s Training School of Nursing in 1895, St. Mary’s Hospital in 1951, and Marian Villa on January 12, 1966. They also opened St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chatham on October 15, 1890, and added a School of Nursing in 1895, later opening St. Joseph’s Hospital in Sarnia on October 18, 1946. These hospitals remained under the Sisters’ control until 1993. The Sisters also administered hospitals in Alberta.

    Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse, Novitiate, and Orphanage was opened at the former Hellmuth College in London on April 10, 1899. The elderly under the Sisters’ care remained at Mount Hope, which was renamed House of Providence, while the orphans were moved to Mount St. Joseph. The motherhouse and novitiate moved to Sacred Heart Convent in London on September 14, 1914, and there remained until 1953 when construction of the new Mount St. Joseph was completed, though it was not officially opened until June 29, 1954.

    In addition to teaching in the separate school system, the Sisters had begun a private girls’ school at Sacred Heart Convent in 1950 and continued it when they moved to Mount St. Joseph, naming it Mount St. Joseph Academy. It remained operational until 1985. They also founded a music school, named St. Joseph’s School of Music, which closed in 1982.

    The Sisters of St. Joseph of the London diocese had missions throughout Ontario and Canada, including Alberta, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories. They also had missions in Peru and provided relief after Hurricane Mitch in Nicaragua.

    The Sisters moved to their new residence; a LEED certified green building at 485 Windermere Road in London in 2007. In 2012, the Hamilton, London, Peterborough, and Pembroke congregations chose to amalgamate and become the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada. The amalgamation received Royal Assent on June 13, 2013.

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    Level of detail


    Dates of creation, revision and deletion

    December 21, 2023

    Language of description

      Script of description


        “History of the Congregation,”, accessed 2023/12/19.
        “Timeline,”, accessed 2023/12/19.

        Accession area