Monklands / Villa Maria Convent
Monklands / Villa Maria Convent National Historic Site of Canada
Monklands / couvent Villa Maria
Monklands / couvent Villa Maria
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Monklands / Villa Maria National Historic Site of Canada is located on Décarie Boulevard in Montréal, Quebec. Monklands is a two-storey stone residence that is currently part of the Villa Maria Private School. The centre section, the oldest part of the convent, was built in the Neo-Palladian style and served as the official residence of governors general of Canada from 1844 to 1849, when Montréal was the capital of the United Province of Canada. The official recognition refers to the boundary of the property at the time of designation in 1951.
Monklands / Villa Maria Convent was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1951 because:
- it was the official residence of the last governor in Montreal.
The Neo-Palladian residence that today constitutes the centre section and oldest part of the private school was constructed in 1804 on an estate owned by the Décarie family and later purchased by Chief Justice Monk in 1794. In 1844, Monk’s niece leased the property to the Crown, which used it as the official residence of the Governor General of Canada and modified it to suit that purpose. Three Governors General occupied the Montréal residence between 1844 and 1849: Sir Charles Metcalfe, Lord Cathcart and Lord Elgin. After 1849, the residence was converted into a hotel by its new tenants. In 1854 it was purchased by the Congregation of Notre-Dame to house a convent and boarding school called Villa Maria.
The heritage value of Monklands / Villa Maria Convent is limited to the oldest part of the building, which served as the residence of Governors General of Canada from 1844 and 1849, and the architectural features, materials, floor plan, craftsmanship, furnishings and facilities dating from the period from 1844 to 1849. It is also related to its setting and elements that recall its status.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1951; May 1974.
Elements contributing to the heritage value of the site include:
- its location, set back from the street on a landscaped lot;
- the projecting centre portion of the building and the harmonious two-storey massing with a basement partially above grade;
- the combination of the centre section of the building constructed before 1849, the extension at the back and the wings, all topped with a low hipped roof;
- the exterior building materials, including rubble stone masonry, the cut stone details, the doors, the windows, the wood openings and the metal roof;
- the main elements of the centre section, including the symmetrical two-and-a-half-storey five-bay façade; the rectangular floor plan, the prominent centre entrance and steps leading to a covered porch with Classical columns, the Corinthian capitals supporting an entablature and formal balcony with a balustrade above, and the edicule in the middle of the roof with two columns and scrollwork supporting a dentellated triangular pediment;
- the main elements of the two side wings, including a single storey with a gable roof and wide openings with multi-paned windows and Classical columns;
- the main elements of the rear extension, including a rectangular floor plan on two storeys and a gable roof;
- the regular layout of the multi-paned windows, the dormers and a projecting entrance portico in the Classical style with a pediment and columns, the columned veranda and the balcony above;
- the Classical-style exterior ornamentation, particularly the Neo-Palladian preserved elements, such as the dentil cornice, the prominent chimneys and the paneled main door with sidelights;
- the craftsmanship of the masonry and the interior and exterior woodwork;
- the traces of the original plan of the centre hall;
- the integrity of the preserved elements of the pre-1850 interior, particularly the elements that bear witness to the English style that was common in the early part of the second half of the 19th century and the remnants of the décor associated with each of the governors general and the building’s use as an official residence;
- the preserved landscaping elements associated with the building’s use as an official residence.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1844/01/01 to 1849/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Governing Canada
- Government and Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
- Special or Training School
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection