Sulpician Seminary

The second Sulpician seminary, located on Notre-Dame Street, is the only remaining evidence of the Ville-Marie’s period of Montreal. In 1684, the Sulpicians set about rebuilding their first Seminary.

The main section of the building followed the design created by Francois Dollier de Casson, a man of outstanding talents who had served as a cavalry captain before becoming a priest. Originally, the main section of the seminary was 186 feet by 29 feet, and the stonework building was surrounded by a mansard roof covered with slate tiles.

Later, in the 18th century, the roof was modified and stair tower and wings were added to the building. However, the main section of the seminary, which included three storeys of superimposed vaulted cellars in addition to the floors above-ground and the attic, remained virtually unchanged. Besides, the location of the central door and the stone discharging arches above the windows also date from the initial construction. Several aspects of the interior layout of the seminary are noteworthy.

On the ground floor, Dollier de Casson included a long corridor which broke with the tradition of a row of rooms entered one from another. The three storeys of superimposed vaulted cellars were a genuine curiosity. The bottom cellar served as a meat locker. A stone well dug in the lower cellars supplied water for the kitchens on the main floors.

Today, the upper vaulted spaces in the basement are used to store the archives of the seminary and a number of other archival documents. Notre Dame Streetm the main entrance to the complex was open onto the Place d’Armes.

A gate to Saint-Francois Xavier Street led to extensive vegetable and ornamental gardens, and a picket fence, then a stone wall was built in 1699 to protect the peaceful haven. The Sulpicians’ property was the most imposing ensemble that Montreal had known up to 1685.

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