October 21, 2015

The Fiducie officially inaugurates the Monastère des Augustines

The afternoon of September 30th solemnly underscored the end of the ambitious restoration of the Monastère des Augustines.  For this official inauguration, the Fiducie held a ceremony under the honorary presidency of Quebec Premier, Philippe Couillard; the Minister of the Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, Denis Lebel; the Cardinal of Québec, Gérald Cyprien Lacroix; the Mayor of Québec, Régis Labeaume; the Minister of Culture and Communications, Hélène David; the Superior General of the Fédération des monastères des Augustines, Sister Lise Tanguay; and, the president of the Fiducie, Marcel Barthe. These dignitaries cut the ribbon, symbolically marking this heritage building’s new vocation.

After arriving in the Nun’s Choir, the guests of honour said a few words to the 200 attentive audience members. For the occasion, the Fiducie united those who had worked on the project from its very first imaginings 25 years go to its completion today. The Augustinian sisters, representatives from the Ursuline congregation, the Séminaire de Québec and the Cathedral‑Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec, and federal, provincial and city politicians also took part in the event.

The master of ceremonies, Denis Robitaille, centred his speech on history, drawing inspiration from many texts found in the archives of the Monastère des Augustines. Among these brief forays into history, the audience learned that Guillaume Couillard, one of the Quebec Premier’s ancestors, was present in the L’Hôtel-Dieu de Québec monastery when, on October 15, 1654, the first stone was placed and blessed for the chapel and sick ward. A reproduction of this historical text was presented to Philippe Couillard at the end of the speech.

To memorialize this ceremony, the presidents of honour each signed the first page of the new Golden Book of the Fiducie’s history.

They then officially inaugurated the building by cutting the ribbon. By this symbolic gesture, they recognized the new vocation of this heritage building, classified as a National Historic Site of Canada and a heritage site under the Cultural Heritage Act. Sister Lise Tanguay had the honour of holding the scissors that had belonged to Sister Marie-Jeanne-Blandine Pépin, called Sister Sainte-Philomène, who had entered the L'Hôtel-Dieu de Québec monastery on May 8, 1925. Used to make cleaning accessories, these scissors are among the 40,000 artefacts in the Monastère museum’s collection.

A long-winded project

After two and a half years of restoring the Hôtel-Dieu de Québec monastery and a nearly 42M$ investment from the Augustinians, the provincial and federal governments and the Ville de Québec, the public is now able to delve into over 375 years of history by visiting its museum and consulting its archives. The transformation of this former cloister into an experience-based hotel and holistic health centre makes the Augustinians’ legacy all the more accessible.

“This ceremony is the last step of a priority project for the Fiducie. We are thrilled with the results,” says the president of the Fiducie, Marcel Barthe. “We have fulfilled the mandate the Augustinians bestowed upon us: transforming and updating the former wings and other areas, including the vaults that date back to 1695, into a welcoming and restful place that is accessible to the public from here and around the world. Our greatest challenge was to conserve its patrimonial character while giving it a modern and pure look to signal the passage to a new vocation,” he explains. Managed by a non-profit organization, the Monastère des Augustines has been welcoming visitors since August 1.

Essential support

The provincial government attributed 16.25M$ as part of the program Building Canada Fund administered by Québec’s Ministry of Culture and Communications. The federal government also invested 15M$ in this shared program, while Ville de Québec contributed 6.3M$ in support of the project.

Read the press release (in French only)

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