Before embarking upon a mission in New France, a religious community had to obtain permission from the King. In the spring of 1639, with the support of two wealthy benefactresses—the Duchess of Aiguillon and Madeleine de Chauvigny (Madame de La Peltrie)—the Hospitaller Augustines and the Ursulines received letters patent allowing them to settle in Québec, where they arrived in the summer of that year. A group of three Hospitaller nuns founded the Hôtel-Dieu in order to care for the sick, in particular for the "pagan savages." Mother de Saint-Ignace (Marie Guénet) became the Superior of this hospital, the colony's first. The Ursulines, under the leadership of Marie de l'Incarnation (Marie Guyart), a mystic and a woman of action, opened a school whose main goal was to instruct "young savage girls in the Catholic religion [and] to teach them to read and write." Faced with the failure of evangelization, the various hospitals and teaching establishments, which were created initially to care for the Aboriginal population, began devoting themselves to the colony's inhabitants.

The Female Religious Communities
Titre pour la fondation des religieuses hospitalières de Québec [Title for the foundation of the Religious Hospitallers of Québec], April 1639 (copy made October 14, 1727)
FR CAOM COL F3 12 fol. 346-347vo