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Repentance could weep unseen: Remembering Maison Sainte-Madeleine, 1850-1975


Repentance could weep unseen: Remembering Maison Sainte-Madeleine, 1850-1975

Plowright, I (2017) Repentance could weep unseen: Remembering Maison Sainte-Madeleine, 1850-1975. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

Text (application/pdf)
Plowright_MA_F2017.pdf - Accepted Version


While Irish Magdalen laundries have garnered considerable media attention, the existence of these institutions in Quebec remains relatively unknown. This project examines Maison Sainte-Madeleine, a refuge in Quebec City opened by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd of Quebec in 1850 with the purpose of reforming so-called “fallen women.” These early inmates, who were often alcoholics, sex workers and unmarried mothers, were only allowed to leave the asylum once the Sisters judged that they were ready to reintegrate into society. In the nineteenth century, inmates sewed and washed clothing as a means of atoning for their sins without payment for their work. In this early period, Maison Sainte-Madeleine relied on charity and revenue from the laundry for its maintenance. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd of Quebec enforced a strict schedule of prayer and work through surveillance and spatial separation. This project outlines the evolution of the built environment, as well as the living conditions and sources of income of the institution from its foundation to its closure.
By the mid-twentieth century, Maison Sainte-Madeleine underwent significant reforms, including the introduction of social workers and the compensation of inmates. The establishment’s modernization during the Quiet Revolution, coupled with the close relationship that the Sisters of the Good Shepherd entertained with the public, led to a divergence in the way these institutions are remembered in Quebec and Ireland. This study will argue that Maison Sainte-Madeleine did not receive the same amount of scrutiny as Irish Magdalen laundries because of its institutional trajectory, and because it was overshadowed in public memory by the Duplessis Orphans scandal.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies > Individualized Program
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Plowright, I
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Individualized Program
Date:August 2017
Thesis Supervisor(s):O'Toole, Emer and Gossage, Peter and Richman Kenneally, Rhona
ID Code:983089
Deposited On:09 Nov 2017 20:49
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:56
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