Our Heritage

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.

Founder's Day - February 2

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.

This year our celebration of Founder’s Day highlights the founding principle for this congregation, ‘mercy.’ It is a principle that underlies the mission of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph and the mission, vision and values of Hotel Dieu Hospital. This year we are pleased to connect our mission to the ‘Jubilee Year of Mercy” inaugurated on December 8, 2015 for the Catholic Church by Pope Francis.

On Founder’s Day we are delighted to share our story within the context of the “Year of Mercy.” In Jérôme le Royer de la Dauversière, his co-founder Marie de la Ferre, and Jeanne Mance, the first lay nurse in the new world, we are given examples of how to live Mercy. Their work and energy disclose that ultimately love is the root of mercy, forgiveness, and compassion. When mercy is expressed by God and humans, there is a quality of looking favourably on the other. By reaching out to the sick poor our founders illustrated this quality of love, which essentially suggests, “I'll accompany you; I'll share the journey with you.”