Society of St. Vincent De Paul
St Lawrence Conference
"Turning Concern into Action"


History - Ontario founder George Manly Muir

George Manly Muir

(1807 - 1882)

The year that Dr. Painchaud left Canada for France and his destiny in Mexico, a young lawyer, named George Manly Muir, joined the newly-founded Conference of Notre Dame in Montreal. He was a native of Ontario, having been born in Amherstburg in 1807.

His father was a Scottish soldier, Colonel of an Infantry Regiment stationed in Ontario. His mother was a Catholic who was both pious and tenacious. In spite of the father's strong Presbyterian faith, George was brought up a Catholic. An early infirmity, as in the case of Dr. Painchaud, left him with a limp for the rest of his life. His father, seeing he could not hope to make a soldier of him, left his education to the mother, who sent him to the Sulpician College, in Montreal.

After completion of his classical studies with the Sulpcians, he began the study of law and, in 1831, became a civil servant, finally becoming registrar or clerk of the legislative assembly of Canada, which, at that time, sat in turn in Quebec, Montreal, Kingston and Toronto.

In 1833, he married Sophie Place, who belonged to an English family of Quebec City. Like Mr. Muir, she also had a Protestant father and a Catholic mother and, like him, she had been brought up as a Catholic by a devout mother. They had one daughter who died in infancy. They had no other children and they interpreted this as a sign that God was calling them to other forms of service in the Church.

He became a member of the Society in 1848 in Montreal, the year the first Conference was founded there, through the inspiration of Bishop Bourget. The Bishop had heard about the Society on a visit to Paris and brought back with him a copy of the Rule and Manual of the Society. In 1849, when Mr. Muir's work brought him to Quebec, he requested admittance to the Quebec Conference and was unanimously admitted.

A year later, his employment took him to Toronto, and he was asked by the Quebec Council to try and found a Conference in Toronto. Having arrived in Toronto, Mr. Muir attended daily Mass at St. Michael's Cathedral and noticed several other men who also attended Mass and received holy communion daily. One by one, he approached them and they agreed to meet to discuss the founding of a Conference. As a result, the first Ontario Conference (the Conference of Charity of Our Lady of Toronto), was founded at St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto, on November 11, 1850. Mr. Muir was soon transferred back to Quebec, where he remained until his death, eventually becoming President of the National Council. 

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