Raphael Lake…The Lake That Wasn’t

Sister Mary Raphael, ca. 1967-1969


Sister Mary Raphael is noteworthy on several fronts. She was especially well known for her 42 years of service at Providence Hospital in Moose Jaw and was much beloved by the people of Moose Jaw. She was also the first Sister of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul to reach the age of 100. Sister Mary Raphael was born in 1877 and died at the ripe old age of 102 in 1979. And she is the only Sister of Providence who almost had a lake named after her!

In 1964 the Minister of Natural Resources of Saskatchewan wrote to Sister Mary Raphael letting her know that the Government of Saskatchewan was going to recommend to Ottawa that a lake in Northern Saskatchewan be named after her. Mr. Sydney Taylor of the Surveys Branch, and a personal acquaintance of Sister Mary Raphael, had suggested that a topographical feature “be named to commemorate [her] many years of dedicated service in our Province [Saskatchewan]”. “Raphael Lake… is situated in the Lac La Ronge area of Saskatchewan among the Province’s finest scenic and sport fishing areas.” A map of the proposed Raphael Lake was sent to Sister Mary Raphael, unfortunately the archives does not have a copy of the map.

Fifteen years later Sister Kay Morrell, Secretary General at the time, contacted the Minister of Natural resources of Saskatchewan to see if a Lake was ever named after Sister Mary Raphael. It turns out that the recommendation was never pursued at Sister Mary Raphael’s “specific request. Apparently, she felt that as a member of a holy order she should not seek this type of public recognition”.

Sister Mary Raphael, 1923