In 1925-26, the Congrégation des Soeurs de Notre-Dame de Montréal built a home for the new Institut Pédagogique de Montréal, a teachers’ college, as well as the school of secondary education for women they had founded in 1908 and then renamed Collège Marguerite-Bourgeoys after the congregation’s founder. The architects were Jean-Omer Marchand and Louis-Auguste Amos. Initially a bilingual institution, the college became francophone only in 1944, while a new college was founded for anglophone pupils: Marianopolis College, which moved to another building on Mont Royal.
The Institut Pédagogique remained in operation until 1969, when teachers’ education was taken over by Université de Montréal. The women’s college remained active, albeit with dwindling enrolment. The congregation’s numbers were also diminishing. In 1984-85, the Sisters relocated from their larger Maison-Mère (present-day Dawson College) to Marguerite-Bourgeoys college. In 1988, the college closed its doors for good and the Sisters took over the entire facility, where they remained until 2005, where they relocated again to their current home. Having outgrown its Mont Royal home, Marianopolis College then purchased the building where it had originated, and it’s been serving as the college location ever since.
The history of the room that now hosts the Marianopolis College library is quite interesting. It began its life as a chapel, designed in late Art-Déco style by Louis-Napoléon Audet as part of a new wing that was added to the college in 1949-50. This chapel was then transformed to a library by the firm Bumaylis, Marquis, Saint-Laurent (engineers) in 1974. When the Sisters of Notre-Dame relocated to the building in 1984-85, the library was converted back to a chapel by Lemay Leclerc architects. Finally, it became a library again when Marianopolis College took over the complex in 2008.
In 2013, the library was renovated by Manon Asselin of Atelier TAG, who painted the walls a stark white that not only illuminates the room but also underlines its architectural elements and the traces of its previous life as a chapel, notably the former altar and wall recesses that once contained religious imagery.
The images displayed on this post date from my visit in April 2022. Many thanks to library coordinator Amy MacLean for welcoming me, and to Philippe-Olivier Boulay Scott, Archivist of the Notre-Dame congregation, for his precious help unveiling this library’s past lives!
- Chapelle de la maison mère de la congrégation Notre-Dame. (2012). In Inventaire des lieux de culte du Québec. Conseil du patrimoine religieux du Québec.
- Jauvin, R. (2008). L’Institut pédagogique. 1916-1969. Congrégation de Notre-Dame.
- Institut pédagogique, Congrégation Notre-Dame—Projet de chapelle… (n.d.). Archives nationales à Sherbrooke.
- Speer, S. (2021). Site de Villa-Maria et de Marianopolis. Énoncé de l’intérêt patrimonial. Ville de Montréal, Direction de l’urbanisme, Division du patrimoine.
- Colloque sur la transformation d’églises en bibliothèques: Le vendredi 4 mai 2012, Grande Bibliothèque, Montréal : est-ce qu’une église peut devenir une bibliothèque du 21 siècle? (2012). Montréal : Conseil du patrimoine religieux du Québec, 2012. (pp. 42-43)
- History and heritage. (n.d.). Marianopolis College. Retrieved April 21, 2023
- Bélanger, C. (2004). Marianopolis College: A Brief History. In L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia.
- Collège Marianopolis—Montréal. (n.d.). Images Montréal. Retrieved April 21, 2023
Library detail pages are primarily a place for me to collect information I gather on the libraries I visit, and are frequently updated. None of this should be considered authoritative, I am not an architect, nor a historian. If you notice something incorrect, please let me know!