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City Hall

A historical narrative of City Hall, produced in collaboration with the Société du Musée du Grand Châteauguay.


 

City Hall

In 1840, Father Bourassa obtained a plot of land from the Bourdon brothers, Moïse and Joseph, on the edge of the Châteauguay River, not far from Saint-Joachim Church, to build a convent dedicated to the education of young girls. The funds to build it came from the income from the church’s lands, the congregation and the Grey Nuns. Classes began in September 1844. The newly built Québec-style boarding school had many windows overlooking the river. The ground floor held the kitchen and dining halls; classes were held on the second floor and the dormitories were in the attic. A long veranda protected by the edge of a wide, sloping roof allowed the girls in residence to get some air on warm summer evenings.

The sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame (CND), founders of education in Montréal, oversaw the girls’ education. They were taught French, English, cooking, sewing, piano and music theory.

Dangerously close

A small fire damaged the premises in 1858, but it was the ice break-ups of 1886, 1900 and 1910 that really frightened the nuns. The situation was so serious that in 1910 the decision was made to tear down the convent, when it was acknowledged that it had been built a little too close to the river.

New convent

The building that now holds Châteauguay city hall was built between 1910 and 1911 by the CND. The architect was Arthur Content, and the contractor was François Dufresne. The total construction cost was $43,900, paid in equal shares by the CND and the school board at the time.

The place was once again dedicated to the education of young girls. There were 40 boarders and 60 day students. The girls were between the ages of 6 and 16. In 1953, the Châteauguay Village school board took over the education of girls from the CND. Twelve years later, in 1965, the convent became a residence for the Mothers of CND.

In 1972, cramped in its city hall, Ville de Châteauguay purchased the convent for the sum of $1 plus the value of the land with the intention of setting up the new city hall there. That goal was achieved on September 30, 1973, when Mayor Richard Sutterlin officially opened the new building. Today, the Édifice de la Mairie is still one of the most iconic buildings in the municipality of Châteauguay. Nearly 60 people work there.

A few dates

1844

CND convent built near the bank of the Châteauguay river, near Saint-Joachim Church.

1858

Mother Superior Sainte-Anastasie, quickly smothers a small fire in the convent’s chapel.

1871

Major repairs are made to the convent.

1886

The break-up of the ice forces classes to be cancelled for two weeks.

1900

Father Chaput holds public prayers to save the convent when it is threatened by another severe ice break-up.

1910-1911

Construction of a new convent managed by the CND.

1965

The convent is converted to a residence for the Mothers of the CND.

1972

Convent purchased by Ville de Châteauguay to become the new city hall.

1973

Inauguration of the new Châteauguay Édifice de la Mairie.

1995

A fire completely destroys the inside of city hall.

1997

Reopening the Édifice de la Mairie after major renovation work. A 42,000-piece glass wall, created by artist Daniel-Jean Primeau, is installed on the top floor of city hall to illustrate the hub Châteauguay is becoming and symbolize the population of the municipality.

Spring freshet of 1886

Heavy debris from the bridge started piling up in front of the convent. In just a few moments, the water on the ground floor was two feet deep. The children and even some nuns had to be piggybacked to one of the windows, where they climbed into rowboats that had rushed to pick them up and take them to the presbytery. A little later, we returned to “rescue” the furniture, books and notebooks, but we had to wade through three feet of water… The children had three weeks of vacation, because the house was too damp and unhealthy to receive them there with no threat of disease.
Photo de Convent chronicler
Convent chronicler
Testimony after the spring freshet of 1886

Fire of 1995 at City Hall

Destructive fire

In August 1995, an electrical fire completely ravaged the inside of city hall. Fortunately, no one was injured. In the photo, then-Mayor Jean-Bosco Bourcier watches the firefighters at work. After extensive renovation work, city hall reopened on June 1, 1997.

The boarding house at the end of the 19th century.

The boarding house at the end of the 19th century.
(Ville de Châteauguay collection)

City Hall

Notes

Designation: Édifice de la Mairie
Year of construction: 1910–1911
Address: 5 Boulevard D’Youville


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