Maison Saint-Gabriel Museum – National Historic Site of Canada, 2009
The Maison Saint-Gabriel Museum located in Point-Saint-Charles, Quebec is dedicated to preserving the history, heritage and artifacts of the settlers of New France in the mid 17th century. The museum consists of a small farm, which has been administered for more than 300 years by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal, founded by Marguerite Bourgeoys in Montreal in 1658.
In 1662, Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve conceded land in Pointe-Saint-Charles to Marguerite Bourgeoys. The purpose of this land was to establish a farm that would feed the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal and support its work.
In 1668, Marguerite Bourgeoys bought land adjacent to hers, on which stood a house and a barn, from Francois Le Ber and Jeanne Testard. Though it was never referred to as such at the time, this later become the Maison Saint-Gabriel.
In the early day 1663-1673, the farm served as a preparatory school. It housed young women destined for or residing in Montreal. These girls were brought to New France in order to provide wives for the numerous single men of the colony.
In 1693, the old farmhouse burned down. However, the foundation and the creamery survived the fire and were incorporated into the reconstruction of the house completed in 1698. The architecture of the rebuilt house, a two-storey body, oak frame and ash beams, contributed to the heritage value of the house as it captured the essence of 17th century structural design.
In the early to mid 18th century, in order to expand the farm, the Congregation bought many pieces of surrounding land. As the city of Montreal expanded and industrialized and as immigration increased, some of the farmland of the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal was sold to allow for the construction of new housing. The construction of the railroad and the opening of the Lachine Canal brought rapid growth and urbanization to Pointe-Saint-Charles, and from the 1850s onward, developers and the city of Montreal slowly dismantled the domain.
After celebrating the 300th anniversary of Marguerite Bourgeoys’ ownership of land in Pointe-Saint-Charles, interest in turning the original house into a museum increased. The construction of the Jeanne-LeBer house began in 1963, and was completed in 1964. The Maison Saint-Gabriel, the original farm house purchased by Bourgeoys in 1668, was classified as a historic site by the Minister of Culture & Communications Quebec, 1992.
The Maison Saint-Gabriel museum hosts over 15,000 artifacts. The 17th-century house and the 18th-century barn hold a collection that helps re-create rural living in New France, using objects dating from the 17th century onwards.
During the summer, costumed interpreters and artisans host live demonstrations showcasing 17th century craftmaking. In addition, the house and barn are surrounded by gardens with plants and trees from the St Lawrence plains.
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