Discover the experience
While the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region is known for its serene nature, its architectural heritage buildings, some of which have been repurposed, are also noteworthy. In Alma, the former Sainte-Marie-de-l’Isle-Maligne church, which already houses the charming Saint-Crème ice cream shop, will also become the home of L’Autel-Relais in the summer of 2023, a one-of-a-kind hotel with a shared space where you can admire the Stations of the Cross and the preserved stained-glass windows of this 1938 building. For active visitors, the Beta Crux centre, located in Saguenay’s former Christ-Roi church, offers bouldering walls, a rope climbing structure and a beautiful relaxation area highlighting the building’s height and natural light.
A unique concept, Maison Mère Baie-Saint-Paul is a true heritage gem that was been converted into a creative and innovative space in 2017. Since then, this former convent has housed organizations with diverse missions harmoniously coexisting and bringing this history-filled building to life. The transformation has resulted in the creation of a co-working space, a museum area called Parcours muséal and more. There, you can learn more about the Little Franciscans of Mary congregation through five immersive zones that highlight the important legacy of these nuns to the Charlevoix community.
Québec City is home to many places steeped in spirituality and history which have been converted but still retain their timeless aura and bear witness to the capital’s rich past. The Maison de la Littérature, located in the former Wesley Temple in the heart of Old Québec City, is one of them. The building, which now houses a library as well as a meeting and creative space, has undergone an impressive transformation and its architectural heritage, including its ogive-shaped windows, is still beautifully showcased.
The Monastère des Augustines is another place laden with history and tradition that goes beyond its original mission. The Augustinian nuns who founded it devoted their lives to caring for bodies and souls before they bequeathed their monastery to the local community to preserve their tangible and intangible heritage. Completely restored and refurbished, the building combines 17th-century European architecture with contemporary additions to offer a lodging experience promoting holistic health in a comfortable spiritual setting. You’ll also find museum facilities presenting a 400-year history.
You can witness the diversity of Montreal’s places of worship in the variety of new purposes for its former religious sites, combining past and present in structures such as condos, community restaurants, university buildings and reception halls. While visiting, make time to see some of the repurposed or multifunctional churches that are now major attractions in the city, such as the Quebec and Canadian Art Pavilion of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Musée des métiers d’art du Québec, Le Monastère and Théâtre Paradoxe, and marvel at the extraordinary display of religious architecture.
It would be impossible to talk about sites that go beyond their religious functions without mentioning the Église du Gesù and its Centre de créativité, a spiritual and artistic space fostering connections and encounters. Located in the heart of the Quartier des spectacles, it’s a creative and historical place combining sacred, contemporary and performing arts, much to the delight of culture and heritage enthusiasts. New works of art are also integrated into the church’s iconography. It’s one of the oldest churches in the city and still holds religious services regularly.