Montreal’s iconic Saint Joseph’s Oratory is about to undergo a major overhaul at a cost of $110 million thanks to grants totaling $63 million from the Government of Québec ($30.8 million), the Canadian Government ($22 million), and the city of Montréal ($10 million), with the business community expected to raise the balance. The national shrine on Mount Royal’s Westmount Summit is Canada’s largest church and purportedly has the largest dome in the world. In 2004, on the occasion of its 100th-anniversary, the basilica was designated a National Historic Site of Canada and Canada Post issued a ‘Saint Joseph’s Oratory, Quebec’ stamp in the 2004 Tourist Attractions series. The Oratory is located on Queen Mary Road near the bustling Côte-des-Neiges commercial artery.
“The City of Montréal is proud to take part in the launch of the development work for this architectural masterpiece in our city that continues to inspire awe in so many people,” Mayor Valérie Plante said. “The proof is in the two million visitors who come to the Oratory each year, making it Quebec’s third most popular tourist destination,” she said. “An important tourist attraction like the Oratory deserves to be preserved, enhanced and kept alive.”
The extensive restoration is intended to modernize many of the Oratory’s infrastructures. By 2022 planners foresee a new visitors center with a shop and a restaurant, reconfigured gardens, redeveloped parking areas, a revamped museum, and a refurbished dome with an observation center. The reconstruction will integrate 21st-century technology with the expertise of Quebec artisans to enhance the experience of visitors and highlight the Oratory’s historical and cultural heritage.
Several officials were on site for the Inauguration of the Major Development Project Worksite at Saint Joseph’s Oratory. “I am very pleased to be participating in today’s launch of the development work for Saint Joseph’s Oratory, which will reaffirm the important status of this tourist attraction,” said Sherry Romanado, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Seniors on behalf of François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “Visitors will enjoy an enhanced experience as they discover, or rediscover, the sanctuary and its breathtaking view of Montréal. Investing in cultural initiatives such as this allows us to celebrate our heritage and history while contributing to the economic development of our city, benefiting today’s and tomorrow’s generations.”
Chantal Rouleau, Minister for Transport and Minister Responsible for the Metropolis and the Montréal Region was on hand for the occasion. “The Quebec government is proud to collaborate on this major development project of Saint Joseph’s Oratory, an architectural symbol of Montréal,” she said. “We have a responsibility to preserve and enhance this extraordinary site that bears witness to our history. And today we are combining our resources to contribute to the development of this sanctuary, which represents both beauty and a rich heritage.”
The Oratory used the occasion to also introduce members of its Campaign Cabinet for its fundraising initiative, Reaching New Heights. With a goal of raising $15 million, and with the participation of religious groups, leaders in Quebec’s business community will take an active role in fundraising for the major renovation at the Oratory. The Campaign Cabinet will include Chair Guy Cormier, President, and CEO of Desjardins Group, supported by Serge Godin, CGI Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board, and Jean-Pierre Léger, Chairman of the Board for the St‑Hubert Foundation.
“I agreed to chair this major fundraising campaign, which will allow the Oratory to preserve its heritage buildings and provide an enhanced visitor experience through a sustainable development project,” Cormier said. The Oratory was originally constructed by great builders from Quebec. In my mind, it is only appropriate that its future development be supported by the great builders of today. And I am proud to announce that we have already raised over 70% of our goal or more than $11 million of our $15 million target,” he said thanking members of the cabinet and major donors for their close collaboration.
“We are pleased to be able to count on Quebec, Inc. leaders to mobilize the business community to help maintain this jewel of our religious and tourism heritage,” said Father Claude Grou, CSC, Rector of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. “In supporting the legacy that Saint Brother André has bequeathed to us, they are helping ensure that our sanctuary is preserved for future generations.”
Feature image: (from left to right) Mr. Jean-Pierre Léger, Chairman of the Board for the St Hubert Foundation and member of the Campaign Cabinet; Mrs. Chantal Rouleau, Minister for Transport and Minister Responsible for the Metropolis and the Montréal Region; Mrs. Sherry Romanado, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Seniors, representing the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; Father Claude Grou, CSC, Rector of Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal; Mr. Guy Cormier, President and Chief Executive Officer, Desjardins Group and Cabinet Chair of the Reaching New Heights Campaign; Mrs. Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal; Mr. Sébastien Barangé, Vice-President, Communications & Public Affairs of CGI, representing Serge Godin, CGI Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board and member of the Campaign Cabinet. (Photo: Sébastien St-Jean)