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Concordia receives $851,000 in federal funding for the Grey Nuns Building

A new plaque highlights the building's status as a National Historic Site
October 13, 2017
By S. Baker

The official designation of Concordia’s Grey Nuns Building as a National Historic Site was formalized this week with a plaque unveiling.

At the same time, an announcement was also made on behalf of the honourable Catherine McKenna, minister of Environment and Climate Change, and minister responsible for Parks Canada, that the Government of Canada will invest $851,000 towards the conservation of the building, located on Concordia’s downtown campus.

The funding is part of Canada’s national cost-sharing program for heritage places.

“The investment promised here today will go a long way towards preserving the integrity of this Montreal landmark,” said Concordia’s president Alan Shepard.

“The Grey Nuns Building not only enriches the lives of the student residents who call it home, but also enhances the vibrancy and culture of our city.”

Marc Miller, member of Parliament for Ville-Marie-Le Sud-Ouest-Île-des-Sœurs and parliamentary secretary to the minister of Infrastructure and Communities, said the federal government is “taking a leadership role in promoting and protecting Canada’s precious and irreplaceable heritage.

“This new funding will ensure the preservation of one of Montréal’s precious historic sites for future generations, while supporting a healthy local economy and a booming tourism sector.”

Built by renowned architect Victor Bourgeau, the first wing of the Grey Nuns Building (formerly the Grey Nuns Motherhouse) opened its doors to the community a few years after Canadian Confederation.

From left: Clarence Epstein, Concordia's senior director of urban and cultural affairs; Marc Miller, MP for Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–Île-des-Soeurs; Concordia's president Alan Shepard, and Sister Aurore Larkins. From left: Clarence Epstein, Concordia's senior director of Urban and Cultural Affairs; Marc Miller, MP for Ville-Marie–Le Sud-Ouest–Île-des-Soeurs; Concordia's president Alan Shepard, and Sister Aurore Larkins.

The H-shaped structure, with an elaborate chapel at its centre, went through several phases of construction but was never fully completed according to Bourgeau’s plans.

For more than 130 years, the building served as home to the Roman Catholic Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, also known as the Grey Nuns. It also served as the centre for their many benevolent works in Montreal and their missionary efforts around the world.

Today, the building houses 600 residence beds, individual and group study spaces, a carefully repurposed Reading Room in the former chapel, Concordia’s Food Services kitchen and the Observation Nursery, which provides a living lab for student teachers in the Early Childhood and Elementary Education program.

Facilities Management has already begun masonry work on the chapel tower and transepts to restore the external façade of the building.

Acknowledging the rich social history of the Grey Nuns Building, Concordia has created a website detailing the development of the space with stories from the past. It also captures Concordia’s respectful adaptation of the Montreal heritage jewel.

“It's our hope that the newly restored Grey Nuns Residence will continue to be a point of pride for the university and the city at large for many years to come,” Shepard said.

Find out more about the history of the Grey Nuns Building.


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