Father Nazaire Piché shared the story.
In February 1861, Bishop Bourget & Mr. Nap. Maréchal were at my home. I told His Grace that the fine property of Governor Simpson (governor of Hudson’s Bay [Company]), who had died in the fall of 1860, was for sale & I mentioned that if we had a Convent like that it would be a great benefit for girls.
The Bishop spoke to me about the Sisters of Saint Anne, saying that, at St-Jacques de l’Achigan, they were very far from Montréal. … The following day I went to the Governor’s residence. … Mr. Hopkins, who had been Sir George Simpson’s agent & had full power of authority, took me into his private office. … After I explained the purpose of my visit, he said that he would be very happy to sell to a community of nuns, because the House would be kept in respectable order. He told me that the day before he had refused $8,500.00, but since he knew that it was for a Hotel he had not wanted to sell. But for the nuns I will sell it to you for $8,000.00. After reporting the result of my meeting with Governor Simpson’s Secretary to the Bishop, His Grace conferred about it with the Authorities of the Sisters of Saint Anne. … A few days later, it was decided to make the purchase.
The transaction was made by a notarized contract that was signed on Wednesday, February 20, 1861. … As soon as the sale was complete, Mr. Hopkins insisted on performing the ceremony practiced by the English, which is to hand over the keys to the house. This is how it took place. Mr. Hopkins, the Sisters and I, the parish priest, went to the front door; Mr. Hopkins put the key in the lock, he opened and closed the door and then removed the key and gave it to Sister Superior, who performed the same ceremony. … That is how the Sisters took possession of the house, and they began living there right away.
Excerpted from “Notes du Curé Nazaire Piché” compiled by André Gélinas in Messire Nazaire Piché (1831-1900). Un pasteur providentiel et un témoin de son époque, 1981.