Following several requests made to the diocesan authorities, the Dominicans arrived in Québec City in 1906 and first settled on rue Taché, not far from the Tour Martello. However the place was too small to meet their needs, so the Dominicans, in 1908, obtained a piece of land on the Grande Allée which would be the future site of St.Dominic’s Monastery and Church. In 1919, the Dominicans began the construction of a monastery-chapel which stood four floors high.
The majority of the building gave way to a place of worship, where the “Frères Prêcheurs”, from then on, would welcome an ever-growing public. The growing number of people attending this chapel soon led to the Dominicans becoming part of a Québec City parish. Following the failure of a first attempt, the project was implemented and finally authorized in 1925.
On June 8, 1930, in the middle of an economic crisis, the blessing of the cornerstone of the church took place and they proceeded, with great determination, with the construction of a rather imposing church that still stands today. This English neo-Gothic church was opened for worship at Christmas 1930, and was officially blessed by Cardinal Rouleau on January 25, 1931. In 1933-1934, the monastery-chapel was converted into a regular monastery and the Dominican convent of Québec was officially erected on August 8, 1934.
Starting in 1936, they began to welcome Dominican students. Everything was going well for the community until January 1, 1939, when a major fire ravaged the main building of the monastery, completely destroying the attic. Brother Martin Tétrault suffered from severe burns and eventually died from his injuries. The repairs needed to restore the building led to an extension which gave the convent the ampleur that we have since admired and that has become the pride of the Grande Allée. A mausoleum was erected at the back of St. Dominic’s Church, in honor of the first pastor of the parish that died in 1939, shortly after the fire.
The church has an exceptional artistic and cultural heritage value. Architect J. Albert LaRue of Montréal made use of the English neo-Gothic style in a most striking fashion. The stained-glass windows, produced by the Maison Chigot in Limoges (France), evoke the Mysteries of the Rosary. The sculptures (close to five hundred of them) by Lauréat Vallière, master-sculptor at the école de Sculpture de Saint-Romuald, present us with the Word of God, which is drawn from the Scriptures, evoked by nature, and stammered by human.
All of these artists greatly contributed to the harmonious ensemble of this church. Moreover, St. Dominic’s received an award at the World Exposition of Religious Art in Rome in 1950.
Over the years, the Dominican church has become synonymous with quality and creativity, due to its liturgical, predication and pastoral initiatives. The quality of its sermons, its doctrinal resources and its liturgy has always been very important to the pastors and to their Dominican colleagues.
Points of Interest :
- The tomb of the church’s first pastor, Rev. Henri Martin
- The pulpit and the sanctuary of the monks
- The vast symbolism and the sculptures of Lauréat Vallière
- The exhibition room built in the church tower (access by appointment only)