New provincial plaque commemorates Mother Marie Thomas d’Aquin (1877-1963)

OTTAWA – Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust, in partnership with the Sisters of the Jeanne d’Arc Institute, unveiled a provincial plaque commemorating Mother Marie Thomas d’Aquin (1877-1963) for her significant contributions toward advancing the status of women and for her positive impact on the community of Lowertown Ottawa, Ontario and beyond.

Mother Marie Thomas d’Aquin is celebrated as a leader and the visionary founder of the Sisters of the Jeanne d’Arc Institute, a religious order whose mission of service and charity extends to all communities without distinction of race, language, nationality, social status or religion.

The plaque text reads:


Jeanne Lydia Branda grew up near Bordeaux, France. From a young age, she felt called to become a nun and teacher. In 1899, she joined the Dominican Sisters of Nancy, where she would teach and take the name Sister Marie Thomas d’Aquin. She left France and settled in Maine where she was deeply influenced by the freedom and openness of America. While visiting Ottawa in 1914, she agreed to head the Jeanne d'Arc Institute, a home and haven for young women who were looking for employment, working or studying. Under her leadership, the Institute underwent unprecedented growth, moving to a larger complex on Sussex Street. The Institute offered classes, companionship and, above all, community. Sister Marie Thomas d’Aquin created a new order in 1919 – the Sisters of the Jeanne d’Arc Institute – that embraced openness without distinction for race, language, nationality, social status or religion, a progressive initiative blending the religious and secular that contributed to the evolution of the status of women. As head of this new congregation, she would now be called Mother. A gifted writer, her published poems, under pen name Marie Sylvia, earned many literary awards. Mother Marie Thomas d’Aquin was a forward-thinking visionary, whose mission of service and charity extended to the broader community.



“Ontario has a long history of exemplary individuals. We are honoured to see Mother Marie Thomas d’Aquin’s story commemorated through this provincial plaque. Her welcoming vision, passion and commitment to serving her community has made our province a better place.” – Michael Ford, Ontario Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism

“Among her many achievements, Mother Marie Thomas d’Aquin made significant contributions to the social, economic and educational well-being of women. She lived a remarkable life of faith and service, working directly in the heart of her community and caring unconditionally for her congregation and beyond. We are delighted to honour her with this new provincial plaque.” – John Ecker, Chair, Board of Directors of the Ontario Heritage Trust

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About the Ontario Heritage Trust

The Ontario Heritage Trust (the Trust) is an agency of the Government of Ontario. The Trust conserves, interprets and shares Ontario’s heritage. We conserve provincially significant cultural and natural, tangible and intangible heritage, interpret Ontario’s history, celebrate its diversity and educate Ontarians of its importance in our society. The Trust envisions an Ontario where we conserve, value and share the places and landscapes, histories, traditions and stories that embody our heritage, now and for future generations.