The monastery at 210 Laurier Street

As part of its commitment to enhance public access to the Ottawa River shoreline, the NCC recently acquired a riverfront property located at 210 Laurier Street in Gatineau, Quebec: the monastery of the Servantes de Jésus-Marie. The main building and the surrounding land will be repurposed and blended into Jacques-Cartier Park, in keeping with the NCC’s Ottawa River North Shore Parklands Plan, after March 2020, when the current lease ends.

Take a tour of the property

The following video includes footage of the existing building and surrounding area, as well as a 3-D visualization that highlights planned initiatives for different areas of the property. These include:

  1. Maintain extensive forest cover on the steep banks and along the top of the escarpment to contribute to the river’s scenic landscape and prevent erosion.
  2. Expand the aquatic grass bed under the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge by linking the two existing aquatic grass beds in front of the monastery and Jacques-Cartier Park North.
  3. Showcase the monastery's history, and preserve elements of the building and surrounding lands that contribute to its heritage value.
  4. Once the monastery’s current activities conclude, use the building in a way that will enhance the recreational public space that is Jacques-Cartier Park.
  5. Redevelop the areas behind the building to integrate them into Jacques-Cartier Park and allow the public to move freely around the monastery.
  6. Convert the back of the parking lot located south of the monastery into a park, integrate it with Jacques-Cartier Park South, and provide a riverfront link between Jacques Cartier Park South and Sacré-Cœur Boulevard.
  7. On the land to the north of the monastery, allow for either fully or partially underground parking facilities to support the building’s new functions.
  8. Consider using the street-front portion of the land north of the monastery to enlarge the building and thus provide additional space to accommodate the new use.

A rich, historical legacy

The site has been home to the Congrégation des Servantes de Jésus-Marie, a contemplative and cloistered community of nuns, since 1902. Originally established in Masson in 1894, the congregation was relocated to Aylmer in 1898, and finally to Hull in 1902 as its size—and therefore its needs—grew. Today, the 82-room monastery has become too large for the congregation’s 42 sisters and they have decided to move to a new location that better suits their current needs.

Over the past century, the Servantes de Jésus-Marie and the monastery itself have come to occupy a special place in the local community and in the history of the Outaouais region. It is the only congregation actually founded in the Outaouais. The monastery’s beautiful chapel has welcomed the public since its construction in 1926, and Pope John Paul the II gave mass there in 1984. The video below provides unique views of the interior of the monastery.

About the project

The primary goals of this project are as follows:

  • To use the building in a way that will enhance Jacques-Cartier Park as a recreational and natural public space.
  • To showcase the monastery’s history and preserve features that convey its heritage.
  • To blend the property into Jacques-Cartier Park in a manner that allows park visitors to move freely around the monastery and enhances public access to the park on both sides of the building.

The next step in this process will be to issue a request for proposals (RFP) that invites potential partners to submit detailed bids for a particular use of the building. A public consultation was held in October 2018 to better understand the public’s preferences with regard to the potential uses of the building, and to directly inform the evaluation criteria that will be outlined in the RFP.