Québec City renders tribute to Doctor Irma LeVasseur

by: Huguette Levasseur

A work of art in honor of Dr. Irma LeVasseur was inaugurated by Quebec City, November 5, 2009. This artwork is integrated in a place located at the intersection of la Canardière road and the South entrance of the CLSC site and the Limoilou Shelter, close to the current the hospital, l’Enfant Jésus. Mr. Alain Loubier, president of the Limoilou Borough, inaugurated this monument.

A bronze sculpture by the young artist Myriam Van Neste pays tribute to Dr. Irma LeVasseur, who is recognized as being the first French speaking woman doctor in Canada. The work of art presents a set of three ferns which soar straight to heaven. "I decided to represent ferns that pierce the ground and stand straight, but which grow in a feminine way. Ferns resemble a spine and also evoke children growing up. I chose to create three ferns since she has been at the root of three Québec institutions», as noted by the artist in the presentation of her work.

The artist was struck by the determination of Dr. Irma. Sick children, who often died prematurely, have been at the heart of the concerns of this woman doctor. In 1907, Dr. Irma founded with Mrs. Justine Lacoste-Beaubien, the Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal. In Quebec City, in 1923, she invested her savings in the foundation of a hospital for children, which became, l’Hôpital l’Enfants Jésus. Finally, in 1927 she opened a clinic for children with disabilities in the Saint-Jean-Baptiste district. It is now known as the Cardinal-Villeneuve Centre, in Quebec City.

Mrs. Pauline Gill, author of three novels about Dr. Levasseur, was present at the inauguration of the monument. She is pleased that a tribute is being rendered to honor this woman doctor who, with determination, worked to provide healthcare for sick children. This pioneer, who had invested her own fortune in his projects, died in poverty and obscurity. Mrs. Gill expresses the following wish for the future: "I would like to see Quebec City give back to our children l’Hôpital-de-Enfant-Jésus, founded for them in 1923."