Hotel Dieu Hospital was established by the Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph (RHSJ), a congregation of religious women founded in France by Jerome le Royer de la Dauversiere in 1636. In the mid-1600s, the Sisters arrived in Canada to help build a hospital in Montreal, and they were called upon to continue their healing mission by opening the first public hospital in the Kingston area in 1845.
They originally took up residence on the corner of Brock and Sydenham Streets, caring for the immigrants who flooded the region and for hundreds of orphans whose immigrant parents died from disease and starvation.
In 1892, the Sisters moved to Hotel Dieu’s current site, increasing patient capacity from 40 to 150 people. A chapel was built in 1895 and a convent in 1897. A School of Nursing started in 1912, with the first class graduating in 1914. More buildings and services were added over the following years with the Centenary, Brock and Johnson wings, and subsequently the Jeanne Mance building in 1984.
While the mission of the Sisters remains the touchstone of all we do at Hotel Dieu Hospital, formal sponsorship of the hospital now rests with Catholic Health International, whose mission is to ensure the presence of Catholic values in its member Corporations.
Each year, on February 2, Hotel Dieu Hospital commemorates the memory of our founder, Jérôme le Royer de la Dauversière who, on this day in 1630, experienced a vision of the Holy Family that inspired him to establish a Congregation of Daughter Hospitallers of St. Joseph; a congregation, which later became known as the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph (RHSJ). From the very beginning, this congregation was dedicated to the Holy Family under the particular protection of St. Joseph, for the service of “the sick poor.” This small beginning led to the founding of congregations in hospitals in many different countries, including Hotel Dieu in Kingston.