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A church, a village, a neighborhood

If the acquisition and conversion of a church by the municipality seems like a major community project, it is good to remember that the decision to build the church in the first place involved important financial and human resources for parishioners.

Black and white photograph, close-up of the wood framework of a building under construction, the rear wall is unfinished, inside are building materials and workers, in the foreground on the left, a woman looks toward the camera.

Construction of the Saint-Zotique Catholic church in 1964, Saint-Zotique


In Quebec, a parish was  the starting point of territorial and urban development. Established by the Catholic Church, each parish is a small regional and administrative district overseen by a priest.

Old black and white photograph, stone church facade surrounded by trees, in the foreground, a low stone wall borders a paved road.

St. Mary Anglican Church around 1950, Hudson

This geographic zone was created as soon as there was a population large enough to ensure the livelihood of its priest. Historically, this drew the physical limits of a future village or neighborhood, and often preceded the establishment of the municipality in which it is found.

Old black and white photograph of a stone church facade and presbytery, in the foreground on the right, two young girls are riding bicycles.

Très-Sainte-Trinité Catholic church, Dorion, 1955

It was essential that each parish have its church. It was a project born from the desire to set oneself apart from the other parishes and create a distinct community, village, or neighborhood.

With the first ground-breaking, the church became the center around which the community developed. Streets, schools, and public places bore the name of the parish and church. With its imposing steeple dominating the landscape, it was both socially and physically at the heart of the community.

Black and white photograph, long shot of a village street, on each side are houses and a sidewalk, in the background a church steeple is visible above the trees.

Church road in the Coteau-Station municipality around 1915

Each church is unique with regards to its patron saint, interior decoration, and various worship practices representative of the community in which it flourished.

Color photograph, aerial view of a village with a church in the center, the village is surrounded by farm land.

Aerial view of the Saint-Clet municipality, 1992