Every year on December 13 we take the time to honour the contribution of the four original Sisters of Providence who made the journey to Kingston. Responding to an invitation from the Bishop to care for the sick, the elderly, the orphaned and the imprisoned, the Sisters arrived by train in the early morning hours on December 13, 1861. This day is celebrated annually as Founders’ Day.
The Sisters of Providence faced seemingly insurmountable challenges, and always found ways through the challenges to stay true to their mission to enhance quality of life. Now it is our turn, 161 years later, to continue to build on their history by providing high quality, compassionate care to those in our region who need it most.
Leading up to Founders Day, Providence Care’s rich history will be featured and we will reflect on the legacy of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, including the history of Providence Manor.
Providence Care has a long history of construction and renovation at our sites, as the needs of our community have evolved and changed over the years. Led by the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul until divestment in 2007, the House of Providence was established in 1861 (later Providence Manor) has seen numerous expansions and additions, including in 1863, 1871, 1892, 1898, 1900, 1911, 1961.
A major renovation was completed in 1990 and the Mother of Sorrows Chapel was restored in 2004.
Read along as we take you back through the years.
The Beginnings: 1800’s – Early 1900’s
On December 13th, 1861, four Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul came to Kingston from Montreal to build a community that would care both physically and spiritually for the elderly, the poor, and orphaned children. Their first home was at the corner of Ordnance Street and Montreal Street, a site believed to have been an officer’s mess.
At the core of the Sisters’ work was the motto “Cor Caritati Sacrum” or “A Heart Consecrated to Charity.” Within days of their arrival in Kingston, the Sisters had taken orphans into their care and began to visit with female convicts in the penitentiary.
By 1871, due to the enormous success of their initial project, the Sisters of Providence built the “House of Providence” on Montreal Street as a new home for the ill and the elderly.
In the years that followed many additions were made to Providence Manor: in 1892, the St. James’ wing was completed; in 1894 the St. Joseph’s wing was built; in 1898 the Our Mother of Sorrows chapel was constructed; and by 1911 the Jublilee wing was completed.
In 1893, the Sisters of Providence opened a printing office where they later published a magazine called “The Guardian.”
Development and Expansion: 1950’s – 1980’s
In 1959, the St. James and St. Joseph’s wings were demolished and replaced by a new building. Due to a dramatic increase in the number of extended care patients admitted to Providence Manor, the workers there expressed a desire to make life more homelike for residents.
In celebration of the Sisters’ Centennial anniversary, a renewed St. Joseph’s wing opened at the House of Providence providing new accommodations for the elderly including an auditorium, hospital services, and a cafeteria. In 1979 the Hildegarde Centre opened to provide day programs and care for seniors.
Compassion and Discovery: 1980’s – Present Day
1990 marked the official opening of a renewed and enlarged Providence Manor. On August 27, 1991, the Providence Continuing Care Centre was formed in order to facilitate relations between St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital and Providence Manor, since both were under the sponsorship of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.
Today, we continue to embark on the home’s next chapter; designing new spaces to better meet the needs of people as they age. Located at Providence Village, the new home will be nestled in a community atmosphere surrounded by green space.
Planning for a new home has continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Like so many other things across the globe, pandemic-related inflation has significantly affected the cost of construction, impacting both our budget and schedule. We are now working closely with the Ministry of Long-Term Care to address the impact on the project. As we continue our discussions, we have had to pause next steps in the planning process.
The vision for the new Providence Manor has not changed. It is planned to be a home we all would want to live in, empowering residents and supporting each persons’ individual needs. Guided by our values, it will be a community of hope, compassion and high quality care.
The new home is planned to provide a welcoming, home-like, resident-centred environment that allows individuals to meet friends and family in comfortable spaces. It is planned to incorporate amenities that will enrich residents’ quality of life and provide an engaging environment for them and their loved ones. Its design will result in a long-term care home that will serve the needs of our community well into the future.