Founded in 1919, the sisters of l’Institute Jeanne D’Arc were a uniquely francophone order of women in Ontario dedicated to the improvement of economic opportunities and education of women coming to find work in Ottawa.
Sister Marie Thomas d’Aquin, who was born in France in 1877, founded the order and continued as its mother superior until 1948. An avid and renowned poet, her writings earned her the French Legion D’honneur in 1956. She passed away in 1963.
From 1917-1980, the Sisters of the Institute became a home away from home for young women from around the globe, from all different backgrounds and religions, as they searched for work, obtained language training and studied at university. At its height during the 1960s, there were nearly 150 Sisters in the order to house and teach the boarders. The order left the building in 1991, and today it remains a well-known landmark along Confederation Boulevard.