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- Mary Ellen Gueren
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Bellelle Guerin was a Canadian writer and the founder and first president of the Catholic Women's League of Canada. Bellelle Guerin was born as Mary Ellen Gueren on September 24, 1849 in Montreal. She was the eldest child of six and only daughter of civil engineer Thomas Gueren and Mary Maguire, both of Irish descent. Bellelle Guerin spent several years of her education at the Mont-Sainte-Marie Convent in Montreal. During this time, she became renowned as a writer and poet. It was then that she adopted the name Bellelle Guerin.
Bellelle Guerin never married, but raised her brother’s two children, Thomas and Mary Carroll, after the death of their mother in 1888. Her brother, James John Edmund Guerin, was a physician and politician. When he was elected mayor of Montreal in 1910, Bellelle served as mayoress. During the following two years, she accompanied him to civic functions and participated in such events as the International Eucharistic Congress, held in Montreal in 1910, and the visit of Earl Grey in Montreal.
In 1917 Bellelle became president of the Catholic Women’s Club, formerly the Ladies of Loyola Club, and in November 1917 the Montreal branch of the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) was founded, with herself as first president. By Bellelle Guerin’s initiative, the Catholic Women’s League of Canada was created in June 1920 to unify the various branches of the CWL, and once again, Bellelle was elected first President.
In 1922, Bellelle Guerin was honored with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice cross from the Roman Catholic Church. In 1923, Bellelle was made honorary president for life of the Catholic Women’s League of Canada. Meanwhile, the national membership of the CWL had grown to 50,000.
Bellelle Guerin died at age 79 on January 28, 1929 in Montreal.
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