Our history shapes our future
In 1856, Reverend Father Bernard McGauran founded Saint Brigid’s Home, a shelter for Irish orphans, widows, and immigrants. A few years later, in 1865, Jeffery Hale left money in his will to establish a hospital to care for sick and disabled Protestants.
Although they belonged to different religious denominations, the two men both had remarkable foresight and a shared vision of compassion and caring.
Our founders’ legacy of forward thinking and compassion continues to evolve to this day. In April 2007, Saint Brigid’s Home and Jeffery Hale Hospital joined forces, forming a single, robust organization that strengthens the region’s health system, especially with regard to the needs of the English-speaking community.
In April 2015, our institution began a new chapter when it was grouped with Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux de la Capitale-Nationale.
Jeffery Hale, son of John Hale and Elizabeth Amherst Hale, was born in Quebec City in 1803. He was educated in England and served in the Royal Navy for 10 years. Inspired by his belief in a God who loves everyone equally, he began to question the British politics and customs of his time. In letters to his mother, he vehemently expressed his disgust with the way the English treated Irish Catholics. He described the slave trade as an abomination and wondered whether the war itself was not in fact legalized murder.
Disillusioned, he left the navy and returned to Quebec City to assist his father, Receiver-general of Lower Canada John Hale. As he did not succeed his father in the position, Jeffery Hale dedicated a large part of his life to charitable causes.
At a time when English speakers represented 40% of the city’s population, Hale established several elementary schools for Anglophones of the poorer classes. He also founded the Quebec Provident and Savings Bank (Banque de Prévoyance et d’Épargnes de Québec) and the Free Chapel Sunday School, the purpose of which was not so much to catechize children as to educate adult workers whose only day off was Sunday.
Today, he is known as the founder of Jeffery Hale Hospital, but he also founded Mount Hermon Cemetery. As an Evangelical Anglican at a time when Protestant churches were growing, he opposed the elitism and insularity of the Anglican Church, and wanted Protestants to be cared for and buried regardless of their religious denomination.
He died in England on November 13, 1864. (Louisa Blair) From the Société historique de Québec website: Vues anciennes de Québec calendar, November 2014.
To learn more about Jeffery Hale, philanthropist
- See the entry for Jeffery Hale in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography online.
- See the Jeffery Hale Hospital page on the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) website, and the BAnQ’s PISTARD databank listing the contents of the Fonds Hôpital Jeffery Hale (P942) collection in their archives.
- See the bilingual book, published in 1990 (now out of print), titled: Centre Hospitalier Jeffery Hale’s Hospital Centre 1865–1990, by Alain Gelly, historian.
- Listen to “The Rising Country” (.mp3, 1993) from the CBC show “Ideas,” based on some of the hundreds of letters that Elizabeth Amherst Hale and her husband John Hale wrote from Quebec to her brother in England, William Pitt Amherst. Starting in 1799, these excerpts paint a rare portrait of Quebec society two hundred years ago, which shaped the character of their nine children, including philanthropist Jeffery Hale, founder of the hospital that bears his name.
- See the delicious recipes in Auxiliary Cuisine (1986), a book by our volunteers; you may see a familiar name in it.
- See the Annual Report of Jeffery Hale’s Hospital and of the Training School for Nurses for 1946
Father Bernard McGauran was born in Sligo, in the western province of Connacht, Ireland, on August 14, 1821. In the 1830s, he immigrated to Quebec with his father and mother, and possibly a brother. Like many Irish immigrants to Quebec, he went to Collège de Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière. He completed his studies at Séminaire de Québec and was ordained a priest in 1846, at age 35. A year later, he was assigned to Grosse-Île to oversee priests who had been sent as almoners for the sick and dying. Thousands of people died at this quarantine station.
Father McGauran caught typhus himself, and went back to Quebec for care. He returned to the island afterwards. In 1856, he took over from Father James Nelligan at Saint Patrick’s Church. He was able to continue the work of his predecessors, and Saint Brigid’s Home, which had a mission to take care of Irish seniors, widows, and orphans, opened almost immediately. He died in 1882 in Goderich, Ontario, and is buried at Saint Patrick’s cemetery in Sillery, in the family plot.
If you or a member of your family lived at Saint Brigid’s when it was an orphanage and would like us to look in our records for confirmation, please use the Contact Us form. In the drop-down menu under SERVICE, select OTHER SUBJECT. Please provide as much information as you can in the MESSAGE field, such as the person’s first and last name at birth, their date of birth, and the years they may have lived at Saint Brigid’s. We will look in our records and the admission and discharge logs, which date back to the early 1900s. Please allow 5 to 10 business days for a response.
To learn more about the history of Saint Brigid’s Home and Father Bernard McGauran:
Jeffery Hale Community Services, as they are known today, were created in 1991. They were called the Holland Centre at the time. The Jeffery Hale program now provides Quebec City’s English-speaking community with CLSC-type services.
To learn more about the history of Jeffery Hale Community Services in English, read the booklet titled, “I Dream – Le Centre Holland”.