On Oct. 7, Mother Delphine Fontbonne arrived in Toronto with three Sisters at the invitation of Bishop de Charbonnel of Toronto to care for orphans of the city.
House of Providence on Power Street opened its doors and provided a place of welcome for all, particularly the most vulnerable of the society at the time.
Sisters volunteered to assist during a diphtheria epidemic in Toronto. The Congregation opened St. Michael’s Hospital in 1892.
By 1900, Toronto Catholic Schools were staffed (with the exception of two schools) by the Christian Brothers and by the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Sisters began preparing female students for university exams. From 1911–2006, St. Joseph’s College was a Catholic women’s college and residence on the campus of the University of St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto.
The Sisters opened St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox, BC, their first western mission. In 1989, the hospital was transferred to the Diocese of Victoria and the Sisters withdrew from this ministry in 1992.
St. Joseph’s Hospital, Toronto was established by the Sisters to serve the west end of Toronto.
St. Joseph’s Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was opened in response to an appeal from the Archbishop of Winnipeg for a hospital for the new Canadians settling in the north end of Winnipeg.
Our Lady of Mercy Hospital for Incurables was opened on Sackville Street to care for patients from House of Providence. In 1940, a new hospital was built on Sunnyside Avenue, Toronto. St. Joseph’s Hospital and Our Lady of Mercy Hospital merged in 1980 to form St. Joseph’s Health Centre.
St. Joseph’s High School, Islington, was opened by the Congregation as a Catholic Girls High School for the west end of the city.
St. Joseph’s College School, established in 1854 as St. Joseph’s Academy, remained in the downtown core, 74 Wellesley Street West. When the Motherhouse moved to Bayview Avenue, the Sisters opened St. Joseph’s Morrow Park High School at the new Bayview location.
St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, Oshawa, was opened by the Sisters. A new Oshawa Catholic High School was built in 1964 and then was renamed Msgr. Paul Dwyer Catholic High School in 1978.
In 1968, the Sisters founded their first foreign mission in Guatemala. Over the years, their work continued in Guatemala, Nicaragua and currently in Haiti and Honduras. Home missions were established in the early twentieth century in British Columbia.
Sisters participate actively in the life of the parish, building community with parish priests and their parishioners through outreach programs, religious education, visits and other activities.
St. Michael’s Halfway Homes Inc. was established as a rehabilitation residence for men with alcohol addiction.
New Beginnings, created by Sister Jean De Luca, offered a program of sharing, healing and reflection for widowed, separated or divorced Catholics. Today, it is run by Catholic Family Services, Archdiocese of Toronto.
Matt Talbot House, founded by Sister Anne Marie Carey, served as a recovery home for older, single, displaced men who have a problem with alcohol or other addictive substances. St. Michael’s Homes continues to administer the Matt Talbot Houses and St. Michael’s Halfway Homes today.
Via Veritas Vita, founded by Sister Virginia Nelson and assisted by Sister Mary Regis Nelson, was a home missions program inviting students and later adults to volunteer in the Canadian North. It closed in 1996.
Toronto Daily Bread Food Bank was founded by Sister Marie Tremblay to serve as a clearing house to distribute food to various small GTA community based food banks. The Daily Bread Food Bank continues today, supporting approximately 170 agencies in running different kinds of food relief programs.
Nazareth House Inc., Toronto, was established to provide a supportive transitional home for young women and their infants. Today, Nazareth House continues to offer a transitional, supportive and stable home for single mothers of infants and other women at risk.
Since 1998, the Catholic Health Corporation of Ontario began and continues to sponsor the three Toronto health care institutions established by the Congregation: St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and Providence Healthcare.
Furniture Bank, founded by Sister Anne Schenck, served as a centre where individuals referred by other registered agencies could obtain furniture and other household items. Today, the Furniture Bank continues to work with 64 shelters and agencies and leases a 30,000 square foot warehouse to serve clients and donors.
Fontbonne Ministries, Sisters of St. Joseph, Toronto, was established as a non-profit, charitable organization of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto. Today, Fontbonne Ministries continues to offer diverse programs that are welcoming, inclusive and reflect the Sisters' love of God and neighbour.
There are Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto working in ministry in Barrie, Niagara Falls, Mississauga, Burlington, Kitchener, Kapuskasing (all in Ontario), Thompson (in Manitoba), Fort St. James and Vancouver (in British Columbia) and Haiti and Honduras in Central America.