House Page 17

Great Canadian Houses

La Chapelle Notre Dame de Lorette, L'Ancienne-Lorette, PQ - 1674

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure The first house built entirely out of brick, in Canada, was this chapel, which served the Indian and French communities alike, after the Hurons fled from central Ontario, for refuge to Quebec, to escape the warring Iroquois.

Below, shot from the same vantage point as the model above, is the same site as it looks today.

The front of the chapel is outlined in yellow in the parking lot.

The commemorative stone - behind the car - sits in the same location as on the model left.

La Chapelle Notre Dame de Lorette (model), L'Ancienne-Lorette, PQ - 1674
Orig. Quebec style, brick house
Found - L'Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec



















The modern church of L'Ancienne-Lorette - facing the same way - was built in 1907, just a few metres to the right of where Canada's first brick building, the small Chapelle de Notre Dame de Lorette, above was built, in 1674, in the midst of a vast encampment of Huron wigwams.

They were refugees from the Midland area of southern Ontario from where they had to flee because of fear of extermination by the Iroquois coming up from the United States. When the French missionaries, that remained among them, fled for safety to Quebec, the Hurons followed and set up at L'Ancienne-Lorette, in what today is a vast graveyard of the church.

Great Canadian Insight

The cut away shows, not only early Canadian roof construction, but a side of frontier priests few people know anything about: that they were not merely reciters of Latin and presiders over pomp and ceremony, but were often intensely skilled and highly talented handymen of the highest order.

Just like most Catholic priests and brothers we have encountered in the small frontier settlements of the remote Canadian North, and in the most isolated villages of distant East Africa, they had advanced skills in horticulture, mechanics, electrical work, engine repair, and - as is evidenced here - complex roof construction.

The priests would have tied up their cassocks, tucked their crosses inside their belts, and marteau in hand, would have scrambled around the structure, placing beams and hammering in wooden pins, all the while shouting joyous instructions to the helpers down below...














Left, roughly the same perspective - ground level - as the cutaway view of the roof above it, shows how closely the historic structure stood to the modern church.

The site - with over 350 years and counting - is one of the very oldest places of Christian worship in Canada.


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