Description of Historic Place
The 1913 Historic église de l'Enfant-Jésus, a wood-frame structure with a tall spire, is situated on Dawson Road, an historic Canadian route, near the east end of the quiet francophone community of Richer. The municipal designation applies to the church, an adjoining cemetery and the large site they occupy.
The Historic église de l'Enfant-Jésus, a classically inspired structure with a dignified front, is a very fine example of French-Canadian ecclesiastical architectural traditions adapted to a small francophone community in southeastern Manitoba in the early 1900s. Designed by J.A. Hudon of St. Boniface (with plans revised by A. Gauthier of Lorette), the church is recognized for its significant role in the religious, educational and social development of the Richer area, especially among the Metis, many of whom figured prominently in church life and are buried in the adjacent cemetery. Faithfully served for over five decades by the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Saint Hyacinthe, the church, the second built on the site (by volunteers using local materials), is the only surviving historic structure from a complex that included a convent, parish hall and rectory. It stands largely unchanged and is an integral part of the community's identity.
Source: Rural Municipality of Ste. Anne By-law No. 11-2007, September 26, 2007
Key elements that define the spacious Historic église de l'Enfant-Jésus site include:
- the easterly location in Richer, on the north side of Dawson Road near a school and some houses
- the building's situation, set back from the road and sidewalk within extensive grassed and treed grounds, including a cemetery to the rear (north) off an angled side drive
Key exterior elements that define the church's French-Canadian-inspired design include:
- the expansive elongated form, of wood-frame construction on a fieldstone foundation, including a high one-storey nave with a steeply pitched gable roof, an attached apse with a polygonal roof, etc.
- the square entrance tower that projects through the front (south) gable to support a classically inspired wooden belfry topped by a tall spire of pressed metal and a Latin cross
- the symmetrical composition of the front and side elevations, expressed through an orderly arrangement of doors and windows, tower-like front corner pilasters capped by small metal belfries, etc.
- the repetitive use of tall round-arched openings, including large nave and smaller apse and transept windows, a Palladian-like niche in the tower, etc.
- the straightforward details, such as the decorative wood keystones, transepts and corner belfries, etc.
Key internal elements that define the building's character and religious function include:
- the logical inner order of the spaces, including the two-part vestibule, the impressive nave with side aisles, the raised sanctuary with side alcoves and the sacristy
- the nave's simple yet elegant clarity and Classical appointments, including its round-arched motif, wide ceremonial centre aisle, high barrel vault ceiling on arcades supported by large round Corinthian columns and squared pilasters, south-end choir loft and balcony carried on four round columns, etc.
- the sanctuary's narrow form, arched opening inscribed in gold and other fine details, finishes and furnishings, such as the nave's light colour palette, the gold filigree, painted ceiling tiles, delicate wood trim and window surrounds, coloured-glass window edging, balcony balustrade and staircase, etc.