Jeanne Mance to be named Montreal co-founder

The city of Montreal has decided to official recognize historical figure Jeanne Mance as the city's co-founder, in celebration of International Women's Day.

City pays tribute to key historical figure for International Women's Day

Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay and other city officials officially recognize Jeanne Mance as the co-founder of the city at city hall on Monday. (CBC)

The city of Montreal has decided to officially recognize historical figure Jeanne Mance as the city's co-founder, in celebration of International Women's Day.

Until now, Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve was recognized as the city's official founder, having led a group of missionairies to found the Ville Marie settlement in 1642.

But Jeanne Mance, a French nurse, was far more than a member of de Maisonneuve's group.

A statue of Jeanne Mance outside Montreal's Hotel Dieu hospital. ((CBC))
She founded the Hotel Dieu hospital, which exists to this day, and at one point Jeanne Mance secured funds from France, saving the colony.

Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay said that's why he wants to honour her.

"I think that one significant gesture would be for Montreal to recognize the woman that co-founded Montreal," said Tremblay.

Not re-writing history: historian

The city said it will go through its archives to acknowledge her place in Montreal's history, and Tremblay hopes the research will be completed by next year.

But Ronald Rudin, a history professor at Concordia University, said the city is right to honour Jeanne Mance.

The intersection of Jeanne-Mance Street and de Maisonneuve Boulevard in downtown Montreal. ((CBC))
"The settlement of Ville Marie was in deep trouble. It was in trouble a decade after Montreal was established. It was broke, and through [Mance's] connections in France, she had access to money that de Maisonneuve didn't," said Rudin.

Rudin says and his peers have already been teaching history students that Mance was in fact the co-founder of the city.

"We're not changing history, we're choosing how to interpret it. History is always a question of interpretation," said Rudin.

"One hundred years ago, given what a woman's role was, it was unlikely that Jeanne Mance would have been celebrated. Given the fact that the women's movement is 40 years old, you might even wonder why it's taken so long," he said.

Making their voices heard

Free South Shore transit

In celebration of International Women's Day, the Longueuil, Que. transit service is offering free rides to all women on Tuesday.

After the city made its tribute Monday, several groups in Quebec planned demonstrations to mark International Women's Day.

In Montreal and Quebec City, a women's coalition protested against the province's controversial health tax outside government buildings on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in Montreal supporters of the city's oldest women's shelter held a march downtown.