MHS Centennial Organization: Villa Rosa

The Sisters of the Miséricorde, a Roman Catholic group of women founded in 1848 for the purpose of providing spiritual and corporal assistance to poor mothers and girls, arrived in Winnipeg in November 1898. Within a year, with donations raised during travels throughout the province, the Sisters purchased property on Broadway from the Jesuits to establish a home for single mothers. Their reception by the neighborhood, however, was less than enthusiastic. They received the following letter in May 1899:

“Some time ago the residents in ... the Hudson's Bay Reserve near where you propose to establish a Maternity Hospital met and suggested that if you could see your way to establish your institution ... quite away from that locality, they would be willing to subscribe the total sum of $1000.00 for the benefit of your institution.”

The Sisters then divided into two groups, one working with single pregant women and the other working at their newly established Misericordia General Hospital. Their home for unwed mothers operated in a number of decrepit buildings along Sherbrook Street, south of Wolseley Avenue. In 1955, Sister Rolande Dufault s.m. came to Winnipeg to join the group, speaking no English and never having been outside her native Quebec. Her arrival would provide critical to Villa Rosa:

“Without Sister Rolande Dufault s.m., Villa Rosa ... would not exist. She always got her way. In the good sense of the word she could manipulate people to serve her cause and was reckoned as an expert in both practical and educational worlds. She cut a wide swath in Winnipeg.” (Monsignor Norman Chartrand, Past Villa Rosa Board Member)

Construction of a new facility at 784 Wolseley Avenue, overlooking the Assiniboine River, was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the Sisters of the Miséricorde. Upon its opening in 1966, the Sisters named it Villa Rosa in honour of their founder Madame Rosalie Cadron Jette, a widow in Montreal who had been the inspiration for their order. Funds for operating expenses were provided by the United Way on the condition that the facility must be run by a Board of Director that was representative of the community. The resulting Board included Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and atheists. Its diverse composition reinforced the message that Villa Rosa was a home for all women, regardless of their race, religion, or ethnic background.

The ongoing mission of Villa Rosa is to provide educational, health, and social services to young, single women and their families during and after pregnancy. Its programs are offered in a safe nurturing environment that encourages personal growth, and carried out in a fiscally responsible, culturally competent manner.

An MHS Centennial Organization Award was presented by Jacqueline Friesen on 16 April 2004.

Villa Rosa holds the archival records beginning in 1898 for Asile Ritchot Orphanage, Misericordia Hospital single women's ward, Rosalie Hall on Sherbrook Street and Villa Rosa Inc. for both mothers and babies. Requests for archival searches can be made by calling 204-786-5741 or email Information is provided in compliance with current privacy legislation. Villa Rosa does not hold adoption records.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Misericordia General Hospital (20 Sherbrook Street, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: L. P. Court / Wilfred Apartments / West Gate Apartments / Misericordia Hospital Nurses’ Home (21 Sherbrook Street, Winnipeg)

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Cornish Court / Misericordia Hospital Nurses’ Home (19 Sherbrook Street, Winnipeg)

Page revised: 30 October 2022