Société Notre-Dame de Montréal

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Société Notre-Dame de Montréal
Coat of arms of the organization
Formation 1641
Extinction 1663
Type NGO
Legal status Association
Purpose The foundation of Fort Ville-Marie
Headquarters Paris
Region served
Montreal Island
Official language
Jerome le Royer de la Dauversiere
Jean-Jacques Olier

The Société Notre-Dame de Montréal was a religious organisation responsible for founding Ville-Marie, the original name for the settlement that would later become Montreal. The long form of the organization name was the Société de Notre-Dame de Montréal pour la conversion des Sauvages de la Nouvelle-France (English: The Society of Our Lady of Montréal for the conversion of the savages of New France).


The Société was formed by the layman Jérôme le Royer de la Dauversière and the priest Jean-Jacques Olier. They found financing for a plan to set up several religious communities: one of priests to convert the Indians, one of nursing nuns, and one of teaching nuns. With some of Olier's penitents, and Dauversière's recruitment of the Baron de Fanchamp, a devout Christian and a wealthy man, a group of six persons was formed including philanthropist Angélique Bullion.[1] They raised seventy-five thousand livres.[2]

Le Royer de la Dauversière obtained the Seigneurial title to the Island of Montreal in the name of the Société de Notre-Dame de Montréal to establish a Roman Catholic mission for evangelizing natives.[3] It was Charles Lallemant who obtained the concession of the Island of Montreal for the colony of Dauversière, and he also recruited Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance to engage in the undertaking. Accompanied by settlers, Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance arrived in Canada in 1641. After spending the winter at Sillery, they land on the island of Montreal May 17, 1642 and founded Ville-Marie. Maisonneuve was the first governor of Montreal. Louis Chartier came from France to supply medical care to Ville-Marie.

La Dauversière published a book on Ville-Marie, The Purpose of Montreal, that raised support for the project in Paris. Written in 1643, it describes the settlement shortly after its founding: "There is a chapel there that serves as a parish, under the title of Notre Dame.… The inhabitants live for the most part communally, as in a sort of inn; others live on their private means, but all live in Jesus Christ, with one heart and soul."[citation needed]

The Society remained active in France, meeting periodically in Paris to establish the broad guidelines of the association and to ratify actions taken by the directors in Montreal. After about twenty years, with most of the founding members died and decreasing membership, the association faced reduced resources while the needs for the defense and expansion of the facility were growing. At a meeting held in Paris March 9, 1663, the Society of Our Lady of Montreal was dissolved and the lordship of the Island of Montreal given to the Society of Saint-Sulpice which had provided religious services to the island since 1657.[4] The Sulpicians became the seigneurs of Ville-Marie and island, taking over from Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve.



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