The Provincial government announced an investment surpassing $2 million to preserve and renovate twelve religious heritage sites within the City of Montreal, including the installation of organs and the restoration of frescoes.

Quebec’s Culture Minister Luc Fortin said that nearly $2.8 million would be distributed between a number of religious institutions on the island – marking a 20 per cent increase in budget over the last four years.

Overall, the Quebec government will be investing $12 million to preserve the historical and cultural integrity of churches throughout the province.

The sum will be used to restore a total of 64 buildings, two organs, and five religious pieces of art across Quebec.

This year’s investment also marks the first year that the provincial government dispenses support to projects relating to modern religious heritage—namely buildings built between 1945 and 1975.

Fortin made the announcement during a press conference at the Sault-au-Recollet (Eglise de la Visitation) in Ahuntsic-Cartierville. The church is emblematic of the era of New France, and is the oldest congregation on the island of Montreal.

Officials at the ministry of culture say that it sits on archaeological sites that have both prehistoric and Euro-Quebecois significance.

“Each of the churches and works that will be restored thanks to [Quebec’s] support have bee, for many generations, at the heart of the life of our villages,” Fortin said in a statement Sunday. “[It] will enable many restoration and conservation projects to take shape, reflecting the evolution of religious culture and architecture over time.”

However, the $12-million cheque can only finance up to 85 per cent of the total costs of restoration. Officials underlined the need for people on the ground within the congregations to mobilize and use their "motivation and creativity" to ensure the preservation of these sites. 

The breakdown of the investment indicates that Christ Church Cathedral on Ste. Catherine St, an Anglican Gothic structure, will receive the most money – half a million dollars – to restore its bell tower.

The Marie Reine du Monde Basilica on Rene-Levesque will also be allocated a sizable portion of the funds: $406,662 to repair a small wall.

A total of 16 religious buildings in Montreal will receive a stipend to execute repairs, or upgrade necessary security features like sprinklers or smoke detectors, for example.

Some parishes are prioritizing the preservation of their art. The Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes Chapel will use their $40,000 subsidy to restore the wall frescoes of Napoleon Bourassa, as well as statues of Saint Jean and Saint Michel.      

At the Paroisse Immaculée-Conception in the Plateau, the money goes directly to preserving a rare piece of history: a Beckerath organ.

The organ boasts 3 keyboards, 56 stops, and 2,700 pipes. Made by German master organ builder Rudolf von Beckerath, the organ was inaugurated in 1961 and maintains all of its original pieces.

The Saint Joesph’s Oratory is the only other religious institution in Montreal to have a Beckerath organ—installed in 1960, the organ was restored in 2012—it took 8,000 hours and half a million dollars to restore it.

However, the Oratory is not one of the churches receiving seed money from the government this year.

Breaking down the $2.8 million investment

  • Saint-James Church (463 Ste. Catherine St) will receive $255, 000  to restore masonry and add a sprinkler system.
  • Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel (400 rue Ste. Paul E) will receive $ 35, 000  to restore the foundation of the southwest-facing wall.
  • Église du Sault-au-Récollet /Église de la Visitation (1847 boul. Gouin E) will receive $340, 000 to restore interior finishings.
  • Saint-George’s Anglican Church (1001 Ave. des Canadiens-de-Montreal) will receive $186, 300 to restore parts of the concrete structure.
  • Saint James the Apostle Church/ St. Jax (1439 Ste. Catherine St) will receive $93,750 to install emergency detection alarms.
  • Saint-Jean-Berchmans Church (1871 Rosemont blvd.) will receive $150,000 to restore its roof.
  • Saint-Esprit-de-Rosemont Church (2851 Rue Masson) will receive $187,500 to execute repairs to church masonry.
  • Église du Très-Saint-Nom-de-Jésus (4215 rue Adam) will be given $99,919 to waterproof its foundations.       
  • Église de la Nativité-de-la-Sainte-Vierge (1855 Rue Dézéry) will receive $150, 000 to restore its doors.
  • Sainte-Brigide-de-Kildare church (1174 rue de Champlain) was allocated $175, 000 to restore the church roof and foundations.