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Take a tranquil wellness vacation in a converted 17th monastery

Journey into the history of the Augustinian Sisters’ heritage in the heart of Old Quebec City (Canada) and enjoy a tranquil, restorative break at Le Monastère des Augustines.

The wellness restaurant at Le Monastère des Augustines, Quebec City. Pea green banquettes, small cafe-style tables and ornate wooden chairs.

The Women in Travel Summit (WITS) (2018) was held in Quebec City, and in the days before the conference started we were treated to some hosted tours and experiences around Quebec City. From walking food tours, nature experiences, farm visits, and more, these tours were a great opportunity to learn about Quebec City in a short space of time. Attendees of the conference arrived from all over the world, and many of us were in town for just a few days so these experiences were an ideal way to get a glimpse of the local scene.

One of the tours took us to Le Monastère des Augustines for a guided experience learning the history of this restored Canadian National Historic Site, a visit to the museum, and a restorative stretch & yoga class.

Plaque with French text on the outside of Le Monastère des Augustines, Quebec City

The history of Le Monastère des Augustines

Founded in 1639 by the Augustine Sisters, this heritage site located in the heart of Old Quebec City, was in the middle of the woods and is the location of the first hospital in Canada and the US. The Sisters, a community of nurses and pharmacists, were sent from France by the King with the mission of healing the bodies and souls of the people of Canada.

The life of the Augustine Sisters

A Monastery for Life sign at Le Monastère des Augustines, Quebec City written in French and English.

As told to us by Marie-Eve, the Manager of Tourism Development at the monastery, the Augustinian Sisters lived a semi-cloistered life and either devoted themselves to the sick, while others assisted by performing household tasks.

In the museum space at Le Monastère des Augustines, Quebec City showcasing the outfits worn by the Sisters and a bed used by the Sisters.

The Sisters took a vow of poverty and their attire of a tunic & veil were their only possessions. Black and white clothing to mark the first steps towards her perpetual profession of vows, and made of rough cloth because the work will be hard.

The Apothecary

Until the end of the 19th century, the Apothecary Sister played an indispensable role in the hospital. Accompanying the doctor on his round three times a day, she was responsible for recording the patient’s temperatures and vital signs, changing bandages, responsible for the surgical instruments, and assisting the surgeon.

On display at Le Monastère des Augustines, Quebec City is a single bed used in the hospital ward. The bed has a simple white metal frame, white sheets and artificial flowers on the bed. A wooden chair and small white metal cart sits beside the bed.

Her specialty was in the various medications that she prepared from plants and herbs imported from France or grown in the monastery garden. The knowledge of making these syrups, infusions, salves, and ointments, was passed down from previous Apothecary Sisters.

The apothecary inside the Le Monastère des Augustines. White shelves lined with an assortment of bottles and jars on display.

The restoration of the building and opening to the public

In the 1950s about 225 Sisters were living at the monastery and today there are about 10 Sisters with an average age of around 85.

In the early 1990s they realized that the community was declining in numbers and the Sisters started to reflect on the future of their heritage. They decided to give the monastery along with 40,000 artifacts, documents, and archives to the population of Quebec.

After 3 years of restoration with the help of 70 volunteers working together with the Sisters, the site opened to the public in 2015.

On the wooden floor at Le Monastère des Augustines, Quebec City are some engraved words in French and English.

Things to do at Le Monastère des Augustines

The current concept of the monastery in Quebec City retains and ensures the longevity of the Augustine nuns and pays tribute to their dedication to health. A visit to this tranquil site is a unique experience offering several ways to connect with the heritage of the Augustinian Sisters.

The church space at Le Monastère des Augustines, Quebec City. Wooden pews along each side of the space, wooden floors and a small table at the front.
  • A museum and archive centre where you can take guided or unguided tours.
  • Unique & simple accommodations in the former cloister:
    • The Legacy rooms are simple and unadorned with the option of single or double rooms with shared bathrooms. The experience is like staying in a monastery hostel.
    • The Contemporary rooms are also quite simple and have a private bathroom. These rooms are more like a monastery hotel experience.
A bedroom at Le Monastère des Augustines, Quebec City. A double bed sits in the middle of the room with white sheets and a heavy blanket on the foot of the bed. The ceiling is slanted with a window on the left and a wardrobe on the right.
  • A wellness centre with multi-day and single-day wellness experiences designed to stimulate and harmonize the body by promoting self-reflection and renewal as well as global health care treatments.
    • Some of the group wellness spaces are located in the stone & brick 1695 Vaults lined with historic artifacts.
The underground wellness space at Le Monastère des Augustines, Quebec City. Blue yoga mats with a bolster and white towel are surrounded by white painted brick walls.
  • Meeting & event room rentals.
  • A restaurant featuring local, farm-fresh and seasonal ingredients. The Augustinian nuns assigned an important role to nutrition in their approach to health, and the restaurant menu is created with this in mind. The food is based on the concept of conscious nutrition, with suggestions but never dictating what people should eat.
  • Multi-day stays
    • The Consumer Packages range from the simple with accommodations, breakfast at the on-site restaurant and access to the museum or you can add on holistic health & wellness options.
    • The Solidarity Respites are packages built for caregivers, companions of sick persons hospitalized at the nearby hospital, health workers and teachers/education workers.

If you are in Quebec City this is a great stop for a museum & heritage tour, to take a single wellness class or to book a full wellness travel stay.

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