Émilie Gamelin as a laywoman, a Lady of Charity
Following her wedding and the loss of her husband and three children, Émilie Tavernier Gamelin finds solace in contemplating Mary, Mother of Sorrows, and chooses to devote her efforts and her love to help the most destitute of her time.
Over the years, she joins various charitable organizations, among which are the Confraternity for the Common Good, the Society of Ladies of Charity, the Confraternity of the Holy Family, the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart and the Association of Ladies of Saint Jacques.
Aside from their participation in these organizations – such as visits to poor families, collection and distribution of alms and food, caring for the sick, and visits to prisoners – she takes into her home penniless elderly and disabled women.
Always confident that Providence will provide for the needs of her protégées, she takes in all those who come and knock on her door: elderly and disabled women, poverty stricken women and unemployed homeless women.
Mrs. Gamelin, fondly known as Providence of the poor, and her work are well known in Montréal; she begs help to shelter and feed her protégées. Her various shelters are rapidly growing, and Émilie Gamelin brings together relatives and friends to form a corporation which will help her in her work.
In 1836, Mrs. Gamelin obtains a larger house; Émilie and her 24 protégées finally move into the “Yellow House “, which Mr. Olivier Berthelet donated to them during one of his visits. This new residence will be named: Providence House.
On September 1841, Providence House receives its civil charter under the name “Corporation of the Retirement Home of the Elderly Women and Infirm of Montreal”. Émilie Tavernier Gamelin is elected director of this corporation.
February 19, 1800
Birth of Émilie Tavernier on Providence land in Montreal.
June 4, 1823
Émilie Tavernier marries Jean Baptiste Gamelin.
May 11, 1824
Birth of Émilie Tavernier Gamelin’s first son, Jean Baptiste Pierre; he passes away on August 15 of that same year.
June 3, 1825
Birth of Émilie Tavernier Gamelin’s second son, Jean Baptiste Antoine; he passes away on September 24 of that same year.
October 29, 1826
of Émilie Tavernier Gamelin’s third son, Toussaint François Arthur.
October 1, 1827
Death of her husband, Jean Baptiste Gamelin.
July 28, 1828
Death of Toussaint François Arthur, Émilie’s third child, at the age of 21 months. Grieved by these deaths, she receives a picture of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows from her spiritual adviser: Rev. Jean Baptiste Bréguier, Sulpician.
Émilie takes in old people, in her house on Saint Antoine Street.
The new parish priest of Notre Dame Basilica, Rev. Claude Fay, P.S.S., grants her the use of the lower level of a house on Saint Laurent Street in Montreal for her protégées.
1831 or 1832
Émilie rents two adjoining houses, on Saint Philippe Street in Montreal and brings the women to live here. She and some other charitable women form a charitable association.
An epidemic of cholera breaks out; nearly 3,000 people die in only fifteen days. Montreal will eventually lose more than 10 % of its population. Émilie Gamelin and the Ladies of Charity assist the Grey Nuns in looking after the sick, the widows and orphans. Émilie takes in 6 orphans, in her house on Saint Philippe Street.
The priests of Saint Sulpice entrust Mrs. Gamelin with the distribution of the alms to the poor of the neibourghood.
Olivier Berthelet visits the asylum on Saint Philippe Street and gives a house to Émilie. With her 24 charges she moves into the “Yellow House”, which will be called: the House of Providence.
The rebellion of the Patriots (fighting to obtain the sovereignty of the Canadian Legislative Assembly from the British authority) breaks out in Lower Canada (presently Quebec) and the prisons are filled with political prisoners. Émilie is the only person who obtains a general authorization allowing her to visit the prisoners. She then applies herself to bring them assistance, acting as a communication link between the prisoners and their families. She brings them food, gives them hope and nourishes their faith. Émilie quickly starts receiving many visitors and letters from parents or friends of the prisoners, who entrust her with donations and messages. She becomes known as the Angel of Prisoners.
April 19, 1840
Rev. Lartigue, Bishop of Montréal, Émilie’s protector and adviser, passes away. His secretary, Father Ignace Bourget, succeeds him as bishop.
Bishop Bourget travels to Rome and France. He is looking for religious men and women willing to come to Montreal and assist him in administering the city’s pastoral and social works.
September 18, 1841
The House of Providence receives its civil charter under the name of “Corporation of the Retirement Home of the Elderly Women and Infirm of Montreal”. Émilie is elected as Director on October 27, 1841.