‘Ottawa’ NCC Buys Historic Riverfront Convent in Gatineau
The National Capital Commission has bought a century-old Gatineau convent on the Ottawa River beside Jacques-Cartier Park.
The NCC announced Friday it had reached an agreement with the Congrégation des Servantes de Jésus-Marie to buy the 80-room convent and chapel at 200 Laurier St.
The deal cost $7.78 million and was based on fair market value as established by an independent appraiser.
The convent was built in 1911, but is not considered a heritage site. The chapel dates back to 1926. The property sits on an 8,700-square-metre riverfront site and was the last piece of private land in Jacques-Cartier Park.
The convent was the mother house for the tiny order, which also had houses in Rimouski in the Abititi region, said Deacon René Laprise, a spokesman for the congregation. The other properties have also been sold.
Just 43 nuns live in the convent, about half of whom are infirm and under nursing care. About a year ago, the congregation gave up its business of making communion hosts which it supplied to other churches in the area.
The deal allows for the congregation to stay in the building for up to three years while it arranges for a new home.
“They’re happy about that. They will have time to find a new place that suits their needs or maybe they will build a new building,” Laprise said.
The NCC intends to hold public consultations to decide how to use the property.
The Congrégation des Servantes de Jésus-Marie is a contemplative order, whose main duty was to pray for the community, Laprise said. Though the nuns rarely left the convent, the services are open to the public. In 1984, Pope John Paul II visited the congregation and performed a private mass for the 250 sisters who lived there at the time, a visit commemorated by a statue outside the convent.
As part of the sale process, bodies in the convent’s basement crypt were removed last summer and reburied at Notre Dame cemetery on Fournier Boulevard, he said.