Downtown residence granted funding under Parks Canada initiative to support National Historic Sites
Concordia’s Grey Nuns Motherhouse was granted $851,000 for preventative and restorative maintenance earlier this month as part of the Parks Canada National Cost-Sharing Program for Heritage Places.
Concordia spokesperson Mary-Jo Barr said the funding will be invested in measures to reduce deterioration to the 146-year-old building. Barr said planned restoration efforts include replacing the building’s masonry and thoroughly cleaning all the surfaces in the Grey Nuns Chapel.
On Oct. 12, Marc Miller, the member of Parliament for Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Sœurs, made the funding announcement on behalf of Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who oversees the cost-sharing program. The funding was granted after an application process in which the university outlined the need for and costs associated with restorative work. According to Parks Canada records, Grey Nuns is one of 143 National Historic Sites that are receiving funding from the cost-sharing program.
“Our government has taken a leadership role in the protection and promotion of Canada’s invaluable and irreplaceable heritage such as the Motherhouse of the Grey Nuns in Montreal,” Miller said in a public statement. “This new funding will ensure the preservation of one of Montreal’s treasured heritage sites for future generations and help foster a healthy local economy and thriving tourism industry.”
Completed in 1871, the building was originally the Motherhouse for the Sisters of Charity of Montreal, commonly known as the Grey Nuns. For decades, the Grey Nuns used the building to serve the poor and take care of community members, including in times of hardship, such as the Great Depression and the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic. According to Concordia’s website, the building was officially designated a historical monument under Quebec’s Cultural Property Act in 1976.
In 2007, Concordia University purchased the building. It was renovated and refurbished before being officially opened as a campus building in September 2014. Currently, the building offers a reading room, cafeteria and daycare centre, and serves as the only residence building on the Sir George Williams campus.
According to Barr, the restoration budget and projects will be managed by the university’s facilities management department. While the current project will focus on restoring the building’s chapel, the university is planning on restoring the facade and interior of the building’s other wings in future years.
“As stewards of this historic building, the university’s goal is to ensure that minimal restoration work is required over the next 100 years,” Barr said.