Co-founder of the City of Montreal, founder of the first hospital in North America
Date of Birth11/12/1606
Date of Death06/18/1673
Jeanne Mance was born to middle class parents in Langres, in eastern France. Though a laywoman, she was educated by the Ursulines. In 1640, Mance left Langres for Paris, where she consulted with several wealthy French women, about her missionary fervor for New France, and was able to secure 22,000 livres from a wealthy woman, Mme Angelique de Bullion, to found a hospital.
In 1641, Jeanne Mance embarked for New France, with Paul de Chomeday de Maisonneuve, and together they founded the city of Montreal, then a mission called Ville Marie, in 1642. In the same year, Mance founded the Hotel-Dieu at Montreal, the first hospital in North America. When construction was completed in 1645, Montreal had only 40 residents. That population would grow to 1,500 by her death in 1673.
Though Jeanne Mance never visited the territory that became Vermont, her nursing work and the hospital she founded was crucial to the welfare of the colony, as war, violence and sickness were daily aspects of life in New France. In the winter of 1666-67, sixty French soldiers were garrisoned at Fort Sainte Anne on Isle La Motte in Lake Champlain, the first European settlement in what is now Vermont. During a severe winter, with only salted meat and spoiled flour to subsist on, forty soldiers became sick with scurvy, and eleven of them died. Montreal sent a Sulpician priest, Father Dollier de Casson, to administer last rites to the dying soldiers. Dollier transported one desperately ill soldier to the hospital in Montreal. For his return to the fort, Jeanne Mance and Father Souart, the Superior of the Sulpicians, sent several sledges loaded with food, including salt, purslane, onions, fowl, and prunes, which allowed the soldiers to survive the first winter spent by Europeans in Vermont.
Jeanne Mance, a co-founder of Montreal, and the first lay nurse of North America, has a street and park in Montreal named after her, as well as a residence hall at the University of Vermont.
In 2009, she was recognized as part of Vermont's Champlain Quadricentennial celebration.
Organizations or Movements
- French settlement of North America