A COMMUNITY FEAST: THE AUTUMN HARVEST
In 1919 when the harvest on the Holy Rosary Farm was gleaned for the fall, Sister Marie de Saint-François-Regis (Alexina Lavoie) who was in charge of the farm, prepared a celebration of Thanksgiving. All the personnel of the mother house was involved with the organization of the Harvest festivities. A big table placed in the rotunda of the refectory, was decorated with flowers and inscriptions noting our gratitude to Him who had visited our land and filled it with riches. This table was laden with the produce from the gardens, the orchards, the bee hives, the chicken coops and the bakery.
From then on it became a yearly autumnal tradition to have a Feast of the Harvest. In November 1946, the harvest was abundant: 121,400 pounds of mixed grains, 2,158 bushels of potatoes, 95 of tomatoes and as many of carrots, turnips, beans, onions, cabbage, pumpkins and radishes. The harvest of fruits: strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, red and black currants, was especially plentiful.
In 1958, a new directress for the farm was named: Sister Marie-Bénigna (Élise Picard). She was proud to continue the tradition. 1961 gives a good idea of the quantity of produce from the gardens: 238 buckets of strawberries, 32 of raspberries, 3 of black currants, 491 bushels of carrots, 80 bushels of beets, 1,602 dozens cobs of corn, 107 baskets of lettuce, 22,070 dozens of radishes, 14,158 pounds of pumpkins, 207 pounds of onions, 18 bushels of parsnip, 88 baskets of spinach, 738 heads of cabbage, 137 pounds of cauliflowers, 184 dozens of cucumbers, 4,850 pounds of rhubarb, 2 buckets of pickling onions, 29 baskets of herbs, 24 watermelons, 112 pounds of red and green peppers, 34 dozen bunches of parsley, 60 bunches of leeks and 1,175 of celery. A large portion of the produce was harvested, in a recreational atmosphere, by the sisters of the mother house. It was the incontestable realization of psalm 65,11: "What a rich harvest Your goodness provides! Wherever You go there is plenty"
Gratitude was expressed for the goods of the earth but also for the work of our sisters who studied, oftentimes in difficult situations. Thus in 1946, Mother Mary of the Annunciation (Victoria Raymond), superior general, held up a precious diploma. She presented it to Sister Marie de Sainte-Jeanne-des-Anges (Jeanne Desjardins); the results with "Grand Distinction" for her course in Home Economics. She was congratulated! The next year was significant in this respect for the perseverence of a number of sisters who received licences in pedagogy, diplomas for nursing, diplomas in photography and recipients of a C diploma in education.
Today, as are most religious communities who have aging members and few recruits, we have been obliged by such circumstances to discontinue farming our lands since the fall of 1995. With heavy hearts we sold our dairy cows, closed our chicken coops, our hives, and the hothouse. The orchard to the west of the house was abandonned a few years ago, the orchards to the north which border the Allée du Rosaire, still produce apples as a reminder of an old conventual tradition and challenge to the resistance of nature.