Founded in 1639, this is the oldest institution of learning for women in North America. Girls still study academics with the Ursulines, who are also famous for their handmade lace. Today, there are two schools, one in Vieux-Québec for girls ages five to 12, and a co-ed campus in nearby Lorettville. The convent has many of its original walls intact and houses a little chapel and a museum.
Chapelle des Ursulines. Founded in 1639, the Couvent des Ursalines
itself is the oldest institution of learning for women in North America. Its chapel is where French general Louis-Joseph Montcalm was buried after he died in the 1759 battle that decided the fate of New France. The chapel houses the finest examples of woodcarving anywhere in Québec, gilded by the nuns themselves. In 2001, Montcalm's remains were transferred to rest with those of his soldiers at the Hôpital Général de Québec's cemetery, at 260 boulevard Langelier. The exterior of the Ursuline Chapel was rebuilt in 1902, but the interior contains the original chapel, which took sculptor Pierre-Noël Levasseur from 1726 to 1736 to complete. Girls still study academics with the Ursulines, who are also famous for their handmade lace. 2 rue du Parloir, Upper Town, G1R 4M5. 418/694–0694. Free. Chapel May–Oct., Tues.–Sat. 10–11:30 and 1:30–4:30, Sun. 1:30–4:30.
Musée des Ursulines. The former residence of Madame de la Peltrie, the laywoman who helped found the convent, is now a museum providing an informative perspective on the Ursuline nuns. It includes an exhibition on the nuns' work in education during the 19th and 20th centuries. The Ursulines are famous for their lace, and it took a nun nine years of training to attain the level of a professional lace embroiderer. The museum contains magnificent examples of their ornate work, such as altar frontals with gold and silver threads intertwined with semiprecious jewels. 12 rue Donnacona, Upper Town, G1R 3Y7. 418/694–0694. www.museedesursulines.com. C$8. May–Sept., Tues.–Sat. 10–5; Oct.–Apr., Tues.–Sun. 1–5.
Québec City, Québec, Canada