It is now two hundred years and more
Since first set foot on Canadian shore
That saint-like heroine, fair and pure,
Prepared all things for Christ to endure;
Resigning rank and kindred ties,
And her sunny home 'neath France's skies.
A lonely sight for her to see
Was the wilderness town of Ville Marie!
The proud St. Lawrence, with silver foam,
Touched softly the base of our island home,
But frowning forest and tangled wood
Made the land a dreary solitude.
Nor mansion, chapel, nor glinting spire
Reflected the sunset's fading fire;
The wigwam sent up its faint blue smoke,
The owlet's shrill cry the stillness broke,
While the small rude huts of the settlers stood
Within frail palisades of wood.
Undaunted by fear of the savage foe,
Wild midnight blaze or th'assassin's blow;
Careless of suffering, famine, want,
That haunted the settlers like spectres gaunt,
Sister Bourgeois had but one hope, one aim -
To humbly work in her Master's name.
Kindly she gathered around her knee
The dusky daughters, unfettered, free,
Of forest tribes, and, with woman's art,
Ennobling, softening each youthful heart,
Fashioned them into true womanhood,
Slow unto evil but prompt to good.
And their pale-face sisters had full share
In this gentle teacher's tender care;
And grew up, holding as holy and dear
The sacred duties of woman's sphere;
Adding the firmness and courage high -
Chief need of our sex in days gone by.
Sister Bourgeois' daughters have nobly all
Responded unto her gracious call;
Through sunshine and joy, through storm and pain -
In one unfailing, unbroken chain
Of teachers devoted - nought left undone
To fulfil the task by their foundress begun.