The third church
The third church, the convent and the mill.
Source: Canadian Illustrated News, 17 July 1880
National Archives of Quebec
If there is one word to describe the context surrounding the building of the third church it would be "unlucky". Firstly, the exceeding costs. Secondly, the abandonment of the worksite by the general contractor and worst of all, a fire, that almost requires a complete do over. In order to better understand the chronology of theses events we must go back, to the beginning of the construction of the third church.
The second church being in need of numerous renovations, on August 1 1857, a petition for the building of a new church was signed by the parishioners and sent to the bishop of Montreal, Mgr Ignace Bourget. Because of this petition, we know that the high number of bodies buried at the second church causing noxious smells where considered a public health hazard. At the time, it was not uncommon for the bodies to be buried underneath the church floor. It is easy to image that after a hundred years or so, the smells must have been bothersome to the parishioners.
The bishop approved the project, and so the third church will be built along with a sacristy.
It is not until 1858 that the architect Victor Bourgeau is
commissioned for the project. At this time Victor Bourgeau
was one of the most prominent and busy architects in post-1850
Montreal, he had a very good reputation, especially in religious
architecture. His inspiration for the third church was based
on the neo-gothic style of the Saint-Pierre-Apôtre church
that he had just completed. Numerous delays – an economic
crisis – push back the start date of the construction
to 1868. Shortly after, in 1870, the general contractor Herménégilde
Viau dit Jeanveau, walked out on the project. His departure
marks the arrival of architect and associate to Bourgeau,
Alcibiade Leprohon, as well as the new contractor François-Xavier
Archambault. The majority of the exterior was finished by
1876, while the interior took from 1879 to 1881. The third
church was on the point of completion when on Easter Sunday,
April 17th1881, fire broke out in the second church to the
east. Strong winds spread the fire to the new church and both
were burned to the ground.