The painting depicts a scene on McNabs Island in Halifax Harbour during a cholera outbreak in 1866. In the foreground are two Sisters in black habits. One is offering a cup to a woman in a shawl. The other Sister is surrounded by children. A third Sister is seen in a tent caring for a person. Makeshift tents are set up next to trees. Two ships are anchored in the Halifax Harbour.
The SS England, a large ship carrying 1300 passengers bound for New York, was suddenly struck by a cholera outbreak was forced to make an emergency stop in the Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia. By the time the anchor had dropped, 50 passengers had already died of the disease. Archbishop Thomas Louis Connelly was concerned about the care of the sick, especially the orphaned children, and asked for volunteers to go to the island. Despite the very serious risk of contracting the disease, every Sister volunteered. Three Sisters were selected to minister to the sick on McNabs Island, and none contracted cholera.
Within the congregation, this event is referred to as the start of health care ministries for the Sisters.
Sister Maria Clare Kehoe (1887 - 1986) discusses her life as a Sister of Charity – Halifax. Sister Maria Clare spent 48 years as a teacher to grades primary to 4 and reminisces on her time spent at missions in Vancouver, British Columbia (1927-1948) and Halifax, Nova Scotia (1948-1981). Sister Maria Clare retired at 1959 from teaching and at age 93, is reflecting on her experience as a self-proclaimed “Senior Sister."
Sister Caroleen Marie Browne (1923-2007) describes her life as a Sister of Charity - Halifax, including her entrance to the community in 1941, her 43 years missioned as a teacher of grades 5 to 12, family, and Sisters she admired.