Ottawa spending $851,000 to conserve Grey Nuns” mother house

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The federal government will invest $851,000 in the conservation of the downtown mother house of the Grey Nuns of Montreal, Liberal MP Marc Miller announced Thursday as he unveiled a plaque from the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to commemorate the building’s national historic importance. The large stone structure on René-Lévesque Blvd. between Guy and St-Mathieu Sts. was bought by Concordia University in 2o07.

The Sisters of Charity, known better known as the Grey Nuns, were founded in 1737 by Marguerite d’Youville and three companions to treat the sick. For more than 130 years, the mother house served as the residence of the Grey Nuns and the place they did their work of serving the disadvantaged and abandoned.

The last elderly nun moved out in 2013 and the building was repurposed as a student residence in 2014. Its chapel was transformed into a 234-seat reading room.

The project, to involve exterior work only, will target sections of the chapel building including masonry, window and ornamental restoration. Work is to continue throughout winter, with insulation placed around the scaffolding, and the aim is to complete the 10-month project by next summer.

The federal government investment is from the National Cost-Sharing Program for Heritage Places, which ensures the protection of national historic sites and heritage lighthouses and railway stations. The intention is to help private owners renovate the properties so as to preserve their historic importance, explained Mathieu Dormaels, a communications officer with Parks Canada. Of about 1,000 such sites in Canada, 170 are owned by the government.

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