City honours Providence legacy

  • November 2, 2007
{mosimage}TORONTO - Heritage Toronto presented the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto with a French and English plaque commemorating 150 years since founding the former House of Providence, now Providence Healthcare.

Lorenzo Berardinetti, MPP for Scarborough Southwest, and Toronto Councillor Pam McConnell were among those to formally thank the Sisters for their work, A reception in the basement of St. Paul’s Basilica followed the Oct. 24 ceremony.   

“I wanted to thank Providence Healthcare for carrying on our mission,” said Sr. Margaret Myatt, superior general of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto.

For more than 100 years the House of Providence stood on Power Street, just south of St. Paul’s Basilica. It was founded by the late Bishop Armand-Francois-Marie de Charbonnel to serve the poor and sick, including many Irish immigrants. On its 100th anniversary it was estimated that more than 27,900 people had been residents of the institution since its inception.

Sr. Stephanie Sinkewicz lived in the House of Providence, which also acted as a convent for 20 of the Sisters.

The building was “clean, but well-worn out. Everything was in need of a renovation, there was a need to leave,” she said.

The House of Providence was demolished in 1962 to make way for the Richmond Street exit from the Don Valley Parkway. More than 500 residents were relocated in a single day to a new site, Providence Villa and Hospital at Warden Avenue and St. Clair Avenue East.

Sr. Roberta Freeman remembers that transition day as being very confusing.

“Some of (the residents) wanted to go back to the old place, but it didn’t take too long until they were feeling at home in their new place,” said Freeman, a former CEO of Providence Healthcare.

Today the House of Providence continues as Providence Healthcare, specializing in rehabilitation, long-term care and community outreach at its facility in Scarborough.

The Societe d’Historie de Toronto sponsored the French plaque to recognize that the former House of Providence was located in a historically French neighbourhood and Carbonnel was a native of France.

The plaques will be mounted in the front of St. Paul’s Basilica.

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