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From its beginning in 1861, the Sisters of Providence have carefully retained their archival records. In the early constitutions the General Secretary was mandated “to keep all papers and documents in the neatest possible form”. The constitutions then went on to specify that the “documents and registers that belong to the archives of the Institute should be kept with greatest care in the safest place possible”. This meant that the archival records were stored at the Motherhouse and cared for by the General Secretary.

In 1964, with the building of a new administration wing at Providence Motherhouse, archival materials were placed in a small Archives room that was located near the General Secretary’s office.

The increasing number of paper records, combined with the increasing public interest in family history and the recommendation of Vatican Council II that religious congregations return to their roots, made it clear that a larger archives room was needed. In 1989 the Archives moved to a renovated area on the ground level of the administration wing of Providence Motherhouse. An Archivist was appointed and a commitment was made to operate the Archives according to the professional standards. In 1999 the Archives was further renovated and expanded.


General Scope
The Archives is the official repository for all documents created by or about the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul and the Providence Associates as the Congregation pursues its religious, social, business and legal obligations. They reflect the activities of the Sisters and Providence Associates and the development and activities of the Congregation as a whole. The Archives maintains the corporate history of the Congregation. It assists the Sisters and Associates in tracing the roots of the Congregation, following its traditions and moving forward in fidelity to its charism, mission and spirituality.

Collecting Policy
The Archives collects all records that are of proven archival value and that are created by or about the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul and the Providence Associates. These records may be administrative, historical, financial, legal, personal, or spiritual in content. They come in a variety of formats including print, photographic, audiovisual and electronic records.


Archival records are made available by appointment to the Sisters of Providence, the Providence Associates and to others whose research is in keeping with the charism, mission and spirituality of the Congregation. Before access to records is granted, researchers will indicate, in writing, the purpose and extent of their work. Access to records is governed by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation, the condition of the document and other previously stipulated access restrictions.


I beseech you to preserve henceforth the letters which will be written to you and those in your house, from wherever they come, when they contain something especially notable which could be important or which could provide knowledge in the future. You have only to make different folders according to their subject of the year in which you receive them; and bundled so, to keep them in a place reserved for this where those who succeed you could have recourse to them when needed. (St. Vincent de Paul)

Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord. (Ps. 102:18)

The work of archives is a gesture of love toward the truth. (John Paul II)

A world without archives would be a world with no memory, no culture, no legal rights, no understanding of the roots of history and science – no collective identity. (XII International Congress on Archives)

Of all national assets, archives are the most precious; they are the gift of one generation to another and the extent of our care of them marks the extent of our civilization. (Sir Arthur Doughty, Dominion Archivist of Canada, 1904-1935)

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Information and Heritage Services

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This sanctuary lamp is from the Chapel of St. Mary’s Hospital, Camrose, Alberta, and is part of the Archives collection. The Catholic Church instructs that a light be kept burning near the tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is stored to indicate the presence of Christ.

by Veronica Stienburg

Ninety years ago, Sister Mary Angel Guardian Mangan supervised the building of St. Mary’s Hospital in Camrose, Alberta. The hospital opened in October 1924 and was staffed by eight Sisters. While, according to the annals, the Sisters’ days were “spent opening boxes, unpacking furniture, trying to place it, picking [their] way among workmen of all trades,” they also had to go to the parish church every day for Mass, as the hospital chapel was not ready yet. The hospital’s annals document how the cold and snowy weather made the journey to Mass quite difficult – and even impossible at times.

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A red letter day

In these times of mass media coverage we take for granted seeing and hearing Pope Francis on television, radio and online. This access was not always the case…what if you had never heard the voice of the Pope? What would the first time you heard his voice mean to you?

The pope addressed the world’s Catholics via radio for the first time on February 12, 1931, during the inaugural broadcast of Vatican Radio. Pope Pius XI made his remarks in Latin. This event was mentioned in the annals of several of the congregation’s missions. View full article »

left to right: Danielle Hughes, Tom McCarthy, Sister Gayle Desarmia

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by Danielle Hughes

The Archives team at Providence Motherhouse got to play “dress up” during a quick stop at the Stratford Festival Archives and Costume Warehouse in mid-May. The three were attending a conference in nearby London, Ontario — the annual conference of the Catholic Archivist Group. View full article »

by Danielle Hughes

Members of the Kingston Historical Society meet monthly at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library to listen to presenters discuss Kingston history.
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by Danielle Hughes

Ninety-two years after preparations for a new hospital to be built and operated by the Sisters of Providence in Kitchener, Ontario were cancelled, the original architectural drawings were returned to the Sisters of Providence Archives. On January 14, 2009, Megan Kerrigan, archivist for Providence Care and Alison Browne, archives technician returned the wayward architectural drawings. A total of twelve drawings were returned and will soon be on display for all to see.
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Collegues honour Sr. Gayle

Archivist Sister Gayle Desarmia is honoured

Sr. Gayle Desarmia has become the first archivist from a religious order to win an award given to an individual who has made a significant contribution within the Ontario Archival community.
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Archivists Sr. Gayle Desarmia and Danielle Hughes undertook a major research project this year when they participated in the Great Canadian Catholic Hospital Project. View full article »