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Memorable Manitobans: Mary Jane McDougall (1842-1896)

Teacher, administrator, nun.

Born at Lesser Slave Lake, probably in January of 1842. She was the daughter of Jane [Jennie, Genevieve] Jasper [Jaspard, Gaspard] and George McDougall (d. 1849), who was in charge of the the Hudson’s Bay Company’s post there. [1] Her personal file with the Grey Nuns identifies her mother as from the “Têtes Plates” [or “Flatheads” (Salish)]. [2] Fur trader George McDougall retired from service with the Hudson’s Bay Company at Lesser Slave Lake in 1849. [3] He died about 7 October 1849, probably in the Lesser Slave Lake area, and his family was left his estate. [4] During his life, George McDougall was an enthusiastic supporter of Methodist Reverend James Evans, and welcomed his fellow missionary Robert Rundle, going so far as to make the difficult trip from Lesser Slave Lake to Edmonton to bring Rundle to missionize at Lesser Slave Lake. [5] Mary Jane McDougall, their daughter, was baptized by Rundle in 1842:

No 168. March 6 [1842] [parents] George and Jane McDougall Lesser Slave Lake [baptized by Robert Rundle] [child:] Mary Jane, 2 months old. [6]

As a strong supporter of the Methodists, George McDougall opposed Catholic missionization in the area. On 5 January 1843, McDougall wrote to James Evans, concerned about inroads being made by the Catholics, and asking Evans to travel to the area to counteract their effect. [7]

Shortly after George McDougall’s death, Jane Jasper moved her family of seven children to Fort Edmonton, and the entire family began receiving religious instruction and then baptism and confirmation from the Catholic missionaries, J. Bte. Thibault and Reverend Father Lacombe. Mary Jane was confirmed in the Catholic Church, receiving the confirmation name of Adélaide. In 1853, when Mary Jane was about nine, Jane Jasper moved her family to Red River, and Mary Jane entered the Catholic boarding school there. On 23 December 1862, Mary Jane became a novice in the order of the Grey Nuns taking her perpetual vows on 3 May 1865. [8]

In the service of the Grey Nuns order, Sister McDougall worked at St. Norbert, helped to establish St. Mary’s Academy when it was under the direction of the Grey Nuns, and oversaw the Grey Nuns’ boarding school. Significantly, during the events surrounding the Riel Resistance, Sir Charles Tupper spoke with Sister McDougall when he hurried to Red River to rescue his son-in-law who was a prisoner of the Riel regime. [9] In 1890, she was named superior of the boarding school. Thereafter she worked at Ste-Anne des Chênes and Qu’Appelle. Returning to St. Boniface, she was placed in charge of the Provencher Academy. In 1895, she was sent to Montreal to help celebrate an anniversary of the order, and left Red River in August to travel to the Order’s motherhouse. Her health declined and by the time she reached Montreal on her return trip she was not well. On 3 November 1896, while still in Montreal, she became paralyzed. She died there in December of the same year. [10]

Sources:

1. Robert Terrill Rundle, The Rundle Journals, 1840-1848. ed. Hugh A. Dempsey. Calgary: Alberta Records Publications Board, Historical Society of Alberta, 1977, page 358 [register of baptisms and marriages reproduced from Rundle’s journal]. In her scrip declaration, Mary Jane McDougall stated that she was born 6 January 1844 at Lesser Slave Lake, and that her father was John George McDougall and her mother was Jane Jasper, a half breed. She also stated that both parents died before 1870.

2. See scrip applications: RG15, Interior, Series D-II-8-a , Volume 1322 , Reel C-14930; Scrip affidavit for McDougall, Mary Jane, born: January 6, 1844, Nun of the General Hospital of; St. Boniface; father: John George McDougall (Scot); mother: Jane Jasper (Métis) Finding Aid number: 15-19; ASGSB, 17/13. See scrip applications: RG15 , Interior , Series D-II-8-a , Volume 1322 , Reel C-14930; Scrip affidavit for McDougall, Mary Jane, born: January 6, 1844, Nun of the General Hospital of; St. Boniface; father: John George McDougall (Scot); mother: Jane Jasper (Métis) Finding Aid number: 15-19; ASGSB, 17/13, Dossier personnel, quoted in Diane Michelle Boyd , 1999. “The Rise and Development of Female Catholic Education in the Nineteenth-century Red River Region: The Case of Catherine Mulaire (Manitoba).”, MA Thesis, Winnipeg: The University of Manitoba; E. E. Rich, biography: “McDougald, George” in George Simpson, Journal Of Occurrences In The Athabasca Department By George Simpson, 1820 And 1821. ed. E. E. Rich, Originally published: London : Hudson's Bay Record Society, 1938, Nendeln : Kraus Reprint, 1968, page 450.

3. E. E. Rich, biography: “McDougald, George”, page 450.

4. Hudson’s Bay Company Archives [hereafter HBCA] D.4/71, Correspondence Outward (General), George Simpson, 267d-268, Letter , George Simpson to John Rowand, Lachine 17 December 1850.

5. Gerald M. Hutchinson, introduction, in Robert Terrill Rundle, The Rundle Journals, 1840-1848. ed. Hugh A. Dempsey. Calgary: Alberta Records Publications Board, Historical Society of Alberta, 1977, xxxii.

6. Rundle, The Rundle Journals, 358 [register of baptisms and marriages reproduced from Rundle’s journal].

7. George MacDougall to James Evans, 5 January 1843, Evans Papers, University of Western Ontario Archives, quoted in Gerald M. Hutchinson, introduction, in Robert Terrill Rundle, The Rundle Journals, 1840-1848. ed. Hugh A. Dempsey. Calgary: Alberta Records Publications Board, Historical Society of Alberta, 1977, xxvi.

8. Sister Mary Jane McDougall, obituary, Le Manitoba, 30 December 1896, 1; ASGSB, 17/13, Dossier personnel, quoted in Boyd, Diane Michelle, 1999. “The Rise and Development of Female Catholic Education in the Nineteenth-century Red River Region: The Case of Catherine Mulaire (Manitoba).”, MA Thesis, Winnipeg: The University of Manitoba.

9. Begg, Alexander, Alexander Begg's Red River journal: and other papers relative to the Red River resistance of 1869-1870, Toronto: Champlain Society, 1956, 87. On Sir Charles Tupper, see Phillip Buckner, “Sir Charles Tupper,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography online: http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=7747&interval=20&&PHPSESSID=629lhon7go046qvgpk9dls4uu6

10. Sister Mary Jane McDougall, obituary, Le Manitoba, 30 December 1896, page 1.

This profile was prepared by Anne Lindsay and Jennifer Brown.

Page revised: 7 September 2009

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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