Asile Ritchot

Les Soeurs de Misericorde (Sisters of Mercy) came to Winnipeg in 1898. When they arrived, they built a small hospital and a home for single mothers and infants. The hospital they founded is now the Misericordia Hospital. In 1904, with the help of Father Ritchot, the sisters started an orphanage in St. Norbert called Asile Ritchot. This orphanage housed orphaned babies, babies born from unmarried mothers and children that came from families that could not afford to raise them. Some of the unmarried mothers with children lived and worked at the orphanage as well.

The original orphanage was a brick house, owned by Joseph LeMay. When he passed, Father Ritchot gave it to the Sisters of Mercy. After various renovations, the building now had a kitchen, chapel, refectory, cemetery, large nursery and living space for the sisters.

Overcrowding and disease was a major issue at the orphanage. The Manitoba Board of Health report stated that “the graduate nurse in charge of the older children has been moved up to the baby’s ward where she has sole charge of 64 babies under two years of age, many of whom are sick.” With lack of funding and insufficient facilities, the sisters had to rely on the revenue from their small farm. Some mothers paid to live at the orphanage, but many worked it off at the orphanage or Misericordia hospital.

In 1911, thanks to funding from the church and provincial government, a larger building with the red domed ceiling was built. This building had larger nurseries, dormitories, play areas, balconies and food preparation areas. In 1945, the government took over the care of the children. Children were sent to Rosalie Home or foster homes. In 1948, the orphanage closed after caring for two thousand children and eight hundred mothers. In 1954, the cemetery remains were relocated and the building became a seminary for the Oblate Fathers. The Oblate Fathers left in 1970 and the building was taken over by X-Kalay and is now used as the Behavioural Health Foundation.

Categories: HistoryKids