Trois-Rivières Historical Complex, Trois-Rivières, QC

From: Parks Canada

Trois-Rivières Historical Complex, Trois-Rivières, QC

Backgrounder

Located in Quebec’s Mauricie region, the Trois-Rivières Historical Complex is on Rue Des Ursulines in the historic district of Trois-Rivières. The complex encompasses five institutional and residential buildings: the Récollets Convent and Church (today the Anglican Saint James Church), the Ursuline Monastery, and the Georges-De Gannes and Hertel-De la Fresnière houses, the latter built in the 19th century. This well-preserved architectural group is a remarkable example of the French Canadian urban landscape of the 18th century. It also reflects the evolution of Rue des Ursulines, home to many Trois-Rivières notables, transient members of the military, and religious communities over the years.

In the early 18th century, a large number of people set up residence in Trois-Rivières, particularly along Rue Notre-Dame (today Rue Des Ursulines). Prominent citizens, visiting soldiers, and religious communities established themselves there as well. Constructed on a portion of this road, the five buildings making up this complex survived a devastating fire that destroyed much of Trois-Rivières’ old town in 1908.

Built in the French Regime style, the one-and-a-half- to two-and-a-half-storey stone structures are visually integrated through their steep gable roofs with overhanging eaves, dormer windows, multiple chimneys, regularly-spaced multi-pane windows, and centred doorways. Major de Gannes’s house was built around 1756. Its owner, Georges de Gannes, a French naval officer, lived in the house until 1760. The house’s original stone façade was later covered in plaster. This house is one of the rare remaining examples of the French Regime in Trois-Rivières. The Hertel de la Fresnière House owes its name to Joseph-François Hertel de la Fresnière, who acquired the land in 1668 and was largely known for his surprise attacks against border towns in New England. Even though the current house bears Hertel’s name, it was built after his death by carpenter François Lafontaine between 1824 and 1829. It later became the property of the Ursulines.

The Recollets, a branch of the Franciscan order, built their convent in 1742 and the church in 1754. From 1760 to 1777, the Recollets shared the site with the Anglican community. From 1779 to 1823, the religious institution served as a hospital, store, tribunal, prison, and also housed administrative buildings. The Anglicans restored the buildings’ exterior and took them over in 1823. In 1830, the church was consecrated as Saint James Church. The Ursuline convent was built in 1700 and underwent various modifications and additions between 1714 and 1960. The back wall of the choir survived fires in 1752 and 1806 and is the only remaining remnant of the original building.

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