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Trappist Monastery Ruins

Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3V, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1988/01/25

Primary elevations, from the northwest, of the Trappist Monastery Ruins, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2006
Primary Elevations
Oblique view, from the southeast, of the Trappist Monastery Ruins, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2006
Oblique View
Interior view of the Trappist Monastery Ruins, Winnipeg, 2006; Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport, 2006

Other Name(s)

Abbey of Our Lady of the Prairies
Notre-Dame des Prairies
Abbaye de notre Lady des Prairies
Notre-Dame des Prairies
Trappist Monastery Ruins

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1903/01/01 to 1905/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/03/07

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Trappist Monastery Ruins are the brick and stone remnants of a religious complex constructed in 1903-05 in St. Norbert, now a south Winnipeg suburb. The provincial designation applies to the ruins and the grounds they occupy.

Heritage Value

The Trappist Monastery Ruins recall a complex of religious architecture unique to Manitoba. The ruins also recall the St. Norbert area's distinct character as an early French-speaking Metis community associated with prominent Manitoba figures such as Father Noel-Joseph Ritchot, who, along with Archbishop A-A. Tache, invited Cistercians of the Trappist order in France to establish the monastery in 1892. Notre Dame des Prairies subsequently provided a private, tranquil existence for the Trappists, one centred on a Romanesque Revival church as their spiritual nucleus, the attached monastic wing and several self-supporting agricultural enterprises, all situated on a secluded peninsula of the La Salle River. Built by the monks to plans sent from their abbey, the exceptional church, in keeping with Cistercian values, featured simple architecture and minimal ornamentation. The monastic wing held the monks' modest rooms, lecture halls, and reception and service areas. In 1983, a few years after the Trappists moved to a new site, fire reduced the monastic wing to its foundation and the church to a shell. The stabilized ruins, and the grounds featuring mature trees, expanses of lawn and open fields, now form the Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park.

Source: Manitoba Heritage Council Meeting Minutes, March 28, 1987

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Trappist Monastery Ruins site include:
- the location on an isolated La Salle River peninsula in St. Norbert, with the ruins set within a landscape of lawns and fields punctuated by many mature trees;
- its proximity to the east of the 1912 Trappist Monastery Guest House, also a Provincial Heritage Site.

Key elements that define the ruins' form and surviving Romanesque Revival architecture include:
- the elongated rectangular expanse of the church meeting the similarly shaped perpendicular volume of the monastic wing, with brick facades of varying heights rising from rusticated stone bases, with all exterior and former interior surfaces open to the air;
- the church's largely intact west facade composed of lesser-ornamented side aisles with shed rooflines and a full-height central bay detailed with a parapet, niches, statuary, a large central circular void, etc.;
- the church's largely intact bell tower featuring a bull's eye opening, the apse walls, etc.;
- the openings, including the round-arched church windows with lug sills, keystones and brick hood moulding and the monastic wing's square-headed windows;
- the details, including limestone belt courses and coping, pilasters, corbelling, etc.




Recognition Authority

Province of Manitoba

Recognition Statute

Manitoba Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Heritage Site

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions

Function - Category and Type


Historic or Interpretive Site


Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Religious Facility or Place of Worship

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Main Floor, 213 Notre Dame Avenue Winnipeg MB R3B 1N3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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