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Notre Dame De Lourdes (Our Lady of Lourdes) Roman Catholic Church

Fort Saskatchewan, Near

Other Names:
Notre Dame de Lourdes
Our Lady of Lourdes RC Church

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
Notre Dame de Lourdes (Our Lady of Lourdes) Roman Catholic Church is a late nineteenth century, one and one-half storey building situated in the hamlet of Lamoureux near Fort Saskatchewan. The church design was inspired by French-Canadian models and features a gable roof, bell tower and spire, as well as a large Palladian window and niche with statue of Mary on the front facade.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of Notre Dame de Lourdes (Our Lady of Lourdes) Roman Catholic Church lies in its association with the religious life of early French-Canadian settlers in the province and its embodiment of an influential style of French-Canadian ecclesiastical architecture.

In the early 1870s, French-Canadian brothers Joseph and Francois Lamoureux were persuaded by a Canadian Pacific Railway (C.P.R.) surveyor to leave Kamloops and seek their fortunes along the North Saskatchewan River valley. They arrived at a site on the north banks of the river near present day Fort Saskatchewan in 1872 and erected some rudimentary structures. Over the next two years, other members of the Lamoureux family were brought to the area from Quebec and the nucleus of one of Alberta's earliest French-Canadian settlements evolved. The Lamoureux family included some of the first farmers, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs in the province; they were instrumental in the growth of their community, establishing a sawmill, gristmill, and ferry for the fledgling settlement and purchasing a sternwheeler for transporting lumber along the North Saskatchewan River. In 1877, Joseph Lamoureux purchased River Lot Sixteen for $100.00 and a log chapel was erected on the site. The growth of the community over the succeeding years necessitated the construction of a new place of worship; under the leadership of Father Ernest Dorais, funds were raised for a new church and construction began in 1902. The building was blessed and dedicated to divine service on February 15, 1903 - the anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. The parish received its name from Bishop Vital Justin Grandin, who reputedly was cured of an excruciating ear ache through the intercession of Mary. He dedicated this church in her honour.

Notre Dame de Lourdes (Our Lady of Lourdes) Roman Catholic Church expressed the French-Canadian religious and aesthetic sensibilities of its parishioners. Designed by Montreal architect Monsieur Venne, the church reflects the nineteenth-century French-Canadian parish church style associated with prominent architect Thomas Baillairge. This style marries elements of traditional French-Canadian architecture with aspects of the Georgian and Neo-Classicist styles. The small, basilican plan of the building and its tall central spire recall some of the medieval church elements incorporated into the French-Canadian ecclesiastical style, while the Palladian window on the front façade was a Georgian style embellishment commonly employed by Bailliarge in his designs. In 1928, a significant, though sympathetic, addition was made to the rear of the building and the interior was redecorated. Multi-coloured glass was added at this time, as well as new pews. The church maintains its character as an expression of French-Canadian religious sensibilities through its continuity with the building traditions of Quebec and its association - through the church's name, statuary, and miniature grotto - with devotion to the Virgin Mary, a historically significant form of religious veneration in French Canada.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 429)


Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Notre Dame de Lourdes (Our Lady of Lourdes) Roman Catholic Church include such features as:
- mass, form, and style;
- gable roof crowned by central belfry featuring square base, four-sided open lantern with arch motif, and pyramidal spire crowned by cross;
- horizontal wood siding;
- double entrance doors enclosed in an arch with semi-circular glass fanlight;
- symmetrical Palladian-style window above doorway arch;
- niche containing statue of Our Lady of Lourdes;
- fenestration pattern, including rectangular windows topped by rounded arches on the sides of the building;
- basilican floor plan (nave, aisles and apse);
- large rounded arches dividing the interior of the church into nave and side aisles;
- faux marble columns extending from Doric-inspired bases with capitals supporting semi-circular arches;
- two faux marble columns flanking entrance and extending through open choir loft to the ceiling;
- original interior elements, including furnishings, artifacts, mouldings, and trims;
- miniature grotto beside the church.


Location



Street Address:
Community: Fort Saskatchewan, Near
Boundaries: Portion of River Lot 16 in Fort Saskatchewan Settlement
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
22
55

1 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
FORTSASK

RL16


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.718117 -113.222792

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1994/03/02

Historical Information

Built: 1902 To 1902
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Building Social and Community Life : Religious Institutions
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s): Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Current Function(s): Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Architect: Monsieur Venne
Builder:
Context: HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

The small, scenic community of Lamoureux is located across the river from the town of Fort Saskatchewan. Its origins date back to 1872, when Joseph and Francois Lamoureux, originally from Quebec, first wintered there. The following year, they went back to Quebec and brought back most of their family, returning to the district in July 1874.

In 1877, Joseph Lamoureux purchased River Lot Sixteen in the settlement of Fort Saskatchewan, and donated it to the Roman Catholic Church with the understanding that a church would be constructed on the site. A log chapel, built on a hill two miles downstream from Fort Saskatchewan Barracks in 1875, was dismantled in 1877 and moved to River Lot Sixteen. Joseph Lamoureux contracted with Bishop Vital Grandin to build a small log chapel and a presbytery on the river lot for $842. The chapel was named and blessed in 1884 by Bishop Grandin, who named it "Notre Dame de Lourdes".

By 1891, the log chapel of Notre de Dame de Lourdes "was crumbling from old age. The pieces of wood which served as foundation being often rotten and worn (sic) eaten, the building seemed to sink into the ground. Moreover, it had become altogether insufficient in size for the population, which had grown remarkably". Under the leadership of the parish priest, Reverend Ernest Dorais, fundraising efforts to build a new church began in 1901.

Plans for the new church were obtained by Reverend Dorais from a Mr. Venne, an architect from Montreal. Construction began in 1902 under Mr. Millette, a contractor in the parish, with the foundation being built by Ernest Meziere from Britanny, France. Notre Dame de Lourdes was blessed and dedicated to divine service on February 15, 1903.

Between July and October 1928, an addition was constructed to the rear of the church, 15 feet to the main section and 25 feet from the sanctuary and sacristy. The interior was renovated and redecorated during this time. Coloured glass was placed in the windows and new pews were added. The work was undertaken by Edouard Morin, the son of an early Lamoureux settler.

Additional buildings were constructed over the years on the property where Notre Dame de Lourdes resides. In 1917, a brick rectory was constructed to the west of the church and in 1953, the Sisters of the Holy Cross Convent, who had been housed in the former rectory, had a new house built to the east of the church.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

Notre Dame de Lourdes was built in a French-Canadian style of architecture which drew upon the medieval parish church tradition of France and its 17th century Baroque church architecture.

Residents of Lamoureux are justifiably proud of Notre Dame de Lourdes. Clearly, it is a fine early example of French-Canadian church designs in Alberta. Perhaps more importantly, however, it stands as a testimony to the religious faith of the early French Canadian settlers and their confidence in settling in the new frontier that was to become Alberta.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0527
Designation File: DES 0429
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 36299
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 429)
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