One of the NCC’s priorities is to increase public access to the Capital’s shorelines. As part of this commitment, we acquired a riverfront property located at 210 Laurier Street in Gatineau, Quebec. The site is better known for being home to the Congrégation des Servantes de Jésus-Marie.

In keeping with the Ottawa River North Shore Parklands Plan, we will repurpose the site when the current lease ends, after March 2020. The main building and the surrounding land will be blended into Jacques-Cartier Park.

About the project

Our primary goals:

  • To 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 enhance public access to the park on both sides of the monastery.

Take a tour of the property

The following video highlights planned initiatives for different areas of the property.

These initiatives include the following:

  • Showcase the monastery's history, and preserve elements of the building and surrounding lands that contribute to its heritage value.
  • Use the building in a way that will enhance the recreational public space in Jacques-Cartier Park.
  • Redevelop the areas behind the building to integrate them into Jacques-Cartier Park.
  • Convert the back of the parking lot south of the monastery into a park, and integrate it with Jacques-Cartier Park South.
  • Maintain forest cover to contribute to the river’s scenic landscape and prevent erosion.
  • 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.
  • Provide a riverfront link between Jacques-Cartier Park South and Sacré-Cœur Boulevard.
  • Allow for underground parking facilities to support the building’s new functions on lands north of the monastery.
  • Consider enlarging the building to provide more space to accommodate the new use.

Process and timeline

In October 2018, the NCC conducted a public consultation in person and online:

  • To gather feedback and ideas on potential future uses for the monastery of the Congrégation des Servantes de Jésus-Marie.
  • To better understand the public’s preferences with regard to the potential uses of the building.
  • To provide guidance as we begin to solicit and review business proposals from potential tenants.

The public consultation report is available here.

As a next step, the NCC will be seeking new tenants to lease the property.

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 its needs — grew.

Now that the 82-room monastery has become too large for the congregation, the sisters 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 occupied 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. Pope John Paul II gave mass there in 1984.

The video below provides an exclusive view of the interior of the monastery.

Oral history project

In November 2017, the NCC Heritage Program initiated an oral history project with the Servantes de Jésus-Marie.

The goal of the project was to better understand the history of this building and the cloistered congregation of nuns who had lived there for over 100 years.

The project was undertaken in collaboration with the Réseau du patrimoine de Gatineau et de l’Outaouais and the Société d’histoire de l’Outaouais, with the participation of the Ville de Gatineau. An intern from Carleton University’s Public History program also worked with the NCC in support of the project between January and April 2018.

The interviews provided invaluable insight into the history and evolution of the congregation over the past century. Conveying some of the intangible heritage of the monastery, the interviews also provided a valuable reference for future planning and interventions at the site.