Notre-Dame-de-Lorette Church National Historic Site of Canada
Villages des Hurons
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Notre-Dame-de-Lorette Church National Historic Site of Canada is a small stone church set on a grassed lot in the centre of Old Wendake Historic District, in Quebec. Constructed in 1865, the building features a metal-clad gable roof surmounted by a bell tower on the ruins of an early-18th century church. A lateral wood chapel and a sacristy date from the early 20th century. Many interior furnishings and objects date back to the 17th century. Official recognition refers to the church on its legal lot at the time of designation.
Notre-Dame-de-Lorette Church was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1981 because:
- the external simplicity of the church of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette and the austerity of its interior design is typical of mission churches;
- the establishment of this Jesuit mission marked the final step in a long, arduous migration of the Huron Nation.
Under the French Regime of the 17th century, the Huron First Nations people became principal intermediaries in the fur trade and the closest allies of the French. Due to the threat of disease and Iroquois invasions, many Hurons fled to missions such as the one located at Jeune-Lorette. The original stone chapel was constructed at the mission in 1722, but was damaged by fire in 1862. The current church of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette is the product of the 1865 reconstruction, using the site and model of the previous church. The current church has fieldstone walls half a metre thick. The simplicity of its layout, the exterior ornamentation and its interior organization, recall the mission churches, small chapels, and parish churches of the 18th and 19th centuries. The layout of the church is rectangular, and ends with a flat chevet.
The church’s austere main façade features a circular window above the arched main entrance. Rebuilt on the model of the preceding church, which dated from the beginning of the 18th century, it is an exceptional example of traditional religious architecture, in its simplest form. The church interior remains simple following modifications to décor and roofing at the end of the 19th century. The objects within the church mark an era of transition in religious arts, as local artists and artisans started to differentiate their work from European styles.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1981; November 1982.
Key elements which relate to the heritage value of the site include:
- its location in the Old Wendake Historic District National Historic Site of Canada, in Quebec;
- its setting on a grassy lot upon the remains of the former Notre-Dame-de-Lorette Church;
- construction of load-bearing fieldstone walls covered with roughcast parging:
- its conformity in plan and construction with 18th-century Roman Catholic mission churches in Quebec, evident in its rectangular plan, pitched roof with flared eaves, semicircular door surmounted by an oculus, twin-lantern, bell tower built on a square base surmounting the roof above the main entrance, the row of small casement windows with round-headed transoms on each side elevation, and its near grade entrance;
- the influence of Neoclassicism evident in the proportions and decorative treatment, particularly of the bell tower;
- the wooden sacristy added to the flat chevet of the original nave and the wooden lateral chapels added to the each side of the church;
- religious artifacts surviving from its 18th-century predecessor, notably the tabernacle of the high altar created by the celebrated sculptor Noël Levasseur;
- its religious decorations and artefacts dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries;
- its siting in an open space at the centre of the community of Old Wendake National Historic Site of Canada.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1730/01/01 to 1730/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
- Religious Facility or Place of Worship
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