These documents were translated into English from the original French by volunteer Heather Trescases, completed July 7, 2005. Generally, this is a literal translation without interpretation, and not written as we might express the thoughts today.

Translator's style sheet

Italics used for questionable translation (spelling, meaning, etc.).

[Square brackets] used for translator insert (not necessarily the direct translation of the text, a clearer translation, an explanation, a notation). Brackets were also used to denote the page number of the original document.

The following abbreviations that were used in the original documents were interpreted as noted in the translation:

M. = Mary or Monsieur (usually Mary)
Mr. = Monsieur
Mgr. = Monseigneur
Me. = Marie (in French) or Mary (Anglicized)
Sr./S. = Sister
St. = Saint
Sauvage = Indian
Indian = Indian


Foundresses to Mother Caron, November 16, 1856
Foundresses to Mother Caron, December 4, 1856
Foundresses and Monsieur (Fr.) Rossi to Mother Caron, n.d.

Letters of the Sisters departed for the Diocese of Nesqually, [on] November 2, 1856


J[esus] M[ary] J[oseph]

Heaven is the prize. Little battalion of Providence

November 16

Our Good and Very Dear Mother,

Now that we have cruelly paid the debt of the mariner, and to calm the concerns of your maternal heart, we are gathering all our strength to write you a few words that we will send in Panama. We have the same ink horn that Sister Raphael had, and the vessel rocks so that we can barely stand. We would have liked to give you the journal of our first crossing, but it was impossible to continue what we had begun, we were so sick and we could barely hold ourselves up. Nevertheless, a word from our little colony: To give you an idea, I cannot find a more perfect likeness than to tell you that we are situated on the Road of the Black Horse [rue du Cheval noir]. On the one side are all the kitchen utensils that start the noise bright and early in the morning and does not finish until around 11 o’clock at night. On the other is the paddle wheel of the vessel that makes a noise by gushing out water, so that we cannot hear ourselves speak. On the same side are two little openings the size of an ordinary round window, which we can only rarely open because of the water that comes through. What tops it all is that from night to morning, coal is transported and dumped with a crash above our heads, without any regard for silence of action. I assure you that the temperature is quite warm, added to the heat of the kitchen, you will understand that we have not suffered from the cold. Our beds smelled musty and were not a bright color. Finally, the few days of rain that there were, two of us were obliged to sleep on the ground to avoid the rain that was falling in torrents on the two upper bunks. We were seven in our modest lodging, one lady Mrs. Kelly and a little orphan, Mary Keenan, entrusted to the lady’s care. We were obliged to give one of our beds to this poor little one. We deemed ourselves blessed to be able to exercise charity towards this poor little one. We have all been sick from the 7th until today. It is Sister Praxedes who was the least sick. She attributes this to the little purge/purgation that she took/made before her departure. His G[race] Monsieur Rossi and the woman gave us every service [took care of us], as they were not sick. Our poor Moyse [Moïse] had been sick, he is recovering. Yesterday he entered our room, he looked so much like he did when he arrived from Long Point that Sister Praxedes asked him how the Sisters of Long Point were doing, calling them each by name. Which gave us a moment of recreation. The Good Lord gives us such great courage that we can only attribute it to the prayers that are being said for us. We are all happy, although we feel the weight of the sacrifice. Our respect to our reverential Bishops, Messieurs of the Bishopric and of the seminary, to the Community, to our dear Sisters, old ladies and orphans. [Note, handwriting difficult to interpret, may not be exact translation of sentence]. SSS??

Received December 30 [1856]

JMJ Hospital of the Divine Providence

December 4 Our Very Dear Mother,

Before taking the last steamer that, finally, will take us to port, we make haste to give you a little sketch of our stay in San Francisco. We arrived on November 30, during the night, so that we could not leave until the next morning, around seven o’clock. We were making preparations to go to the Community of the Sisters of Charity in order to ask for hospitality, when the good Monsieur King, Priest of the Archbishopric, came before us and led us to the Reverend Sisters of Mercy who cordially and affectionately welcomed us in a way that reminded us a lot of our dear communities in Canada. Although these good Sisters carry the name of our Sisters of Mercy, they differ in all aspects. Their Institute has as a goal all of the works of charity: the education of day students, visiting and caring for the sick of all kinds at their hospital, finally they also add to this the works of our Sisters of Mercy in Montreal. We had the happiness of seeing their little orphans, which left a very touching impression and grievously reminded us of our little orphans in Canada. [p.4] The good Monsieur King, who we mentioned earlier, took us to the different places and communities of the city.

This Reverend Monsieur lived in Nesqually for twenty months, but his health did not permit him to stay any longer, the air is too cold; he was telling us that not having the good fortune to share our labors, he wanted at least to give us all the pleasure allowed that was in his power. He also gave us a few notes on what we will have to do once we arrive at our destination, the manner in which to act with these uncivilized and boorish people. Finally, with the grace of God we hope that all will go well, as always.

In the journal we will give you long details, into which we cannot enter now. We are as well as we could want to be, although very fatigued from the new regime of life and the different changes, especially from the lack of exercise.

The health of his Grace and that of the Good Monsieur Rossi are also good. [p.5] Finally, good and very dear Mother, we often encounter the occasion to renew our Sacrifices, everything that resembles our dear community always offers us very bitter memories but it is in this that consists the merit and the part befallen the poor Missionary, in whatever place she finds herself, it does not prevent the merit from always being just as big, and it even increases more and more in proportion to circumstances. Well then dear [mother], we recommend ourselves again, and we cannot do it too often, to the prayers of our community, of our little orphans, our good elderly invalids and of all the charitable persons. Our profound respects to our Lords the Bishops, to our good Father Truteau, to the MM [Messieurs] of the seminaries and of the Bishopric, to the good boarders and ladies of Charity, Monsieur LaCroix and his family. Farewell, farewell our good Mother. Farewell, farewell!!! Until we meet again in Heaven. Believe good Mother in the sincere affection of your poor daughters, in the immaculate heart of our common Mother of Seven Sorrows we will be forever united without further separation. Your affectionate children in exile,

Sister Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Sister Praxedes of Providence, Sister Blandine of the Holy Angels, Sister Vincent de Paul and Sister Mary of the Precious Blood.

Letter from Monsieur Rossi

Our dear and very dear Sisters,

The five sisters of Vancouver wish a happy New Year to the innumerable Sisters of Montreal. We want to have the time to tell you many things, to wish you all the sweet things, the caresses and the communications of the child Jesus, but we excuse ourselves from this for the very simple reason that by the time this letter reaches you, the child Jesus will have already shed his treasures upon you. All the better now that we tell you that we are in good health. Mother Joseph is visibly fattening up; Sister Praxedes is still thin; Sister Blandine and the two postulants are missionaries. We can assure you that the devil does not find the time to pester us. We are always busy, from morning to night, from night to morning. They fooled us well when they told us that there was nothing to do here. If we were ten or twenty there would [still] be work for all.

What then are you doing? You will ask us. That is another matter. [p.7] You would have to see us, and [then] you could see all the skill and all the professions exercised here: It is a veritable arsenal. However we are content and happy, not withstanding a bit of weariness that sometimes surprises us, despite ourselves.

Everyone is doing well, Monseigneur, the Great Vicar, the odd Monsieur Rossi and the relics are doing marvelously. They are here to hasten us, the post-boy is leaving: hurry up, hurry up, so that we do not know what we are writing. Our Mother will give you the details that she judges appropriate, farewell, farewell, farewell, pray for us.

Your Dear Sisters,

Joseph, Praxedes, Blandine, Vincent de Paul, Mary of the Precious Blood and finally your completely devoted L. Rossi.