Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal

Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal

March 16, 2007 14:28 ET

90 Years Worth the Wait: An Elevator is Inaugurated at Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - March 16, 2007) - The official inauguration of a first elevator represents an important milestone in the Saint Joseph Oratory's renovation project. Part of the initial construction plans, at the beginning of last century, the elevator will link the Votive Chapel, the Concourse Hall and the level where the heart of Brother Andre is kept.

Father Claude Grou, CSC explains that "this first elevator will facilitate access for mobility-impaired visitors and pilgrims as well as families with strollers who want to discover the numerous wonders of the Oratory. This accomplishment is part of our renovation project's objective to make the Oratory more accessible to the two million or so annual visitors."

The event was marked today by a ceremony attended by several representatives from social, municipal and religious organizations.

The construction of the elevator, which represents a 2.5 million dollar investment, was made possible through a contribution from the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, which covers 25% of expenses. The public's generosity, as part of the Great Bee, also contributed to the funding, as well as Quebec businesses. The fundraising campaign with businesses is sponsored by Mr. Alban d'Amours, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Desjardins Group.

An exceptional accomplishment

The first access to the elevator will be located at the Votive Chapel, on the Crypt level and it will follow the Mount Royal rocky face for several meters. The second access, 13 meters above, leads to the Concourse Hall, and the Gardens of the Way of the Cross and the superb exterior terrace, overlooking the Crypt. The third access, 17 meters above, (4 meters above the second level), stops where the heart of Brother Andre is exposed, close to the exhibition room on the life and work of the Oratory's founder, as well as near the meeting and projection rooms.

Architect Rene Ouellet wanted to show, through the access from the Votive Chapel, the symbiosis between Saint Joseph's Oratory and Mount Royal and the complexity of its structure in this environment.

A long-awaited elevator

Drawings for the elevator can be found in the Basilica plans drawn by architects Dalbe Viau and Alphonse Venne, around 1916. Throughout the years, the project was often reviewed and delayed due to lack of funds.

The construction of the first escalators in 1950, facilitated access to the upper floors. Those in good physical shape and courageous pilgrims may still climb the 153 steps that lead from the Crypt level to the Basilica level.

The construction of elevators was reinstated on the agenda as part of the Oratory's major renovation project, which began in 2002 and should be completed by 2010. A second elevator, linking the upper levels, where are located the heart of Brother Andre, the Oratory Museum, the Basilica and the Organ Loft, is scheduled to begin soon.

Conception: Ouellet architectes

Structural Engineering: Calculatec

Realization: AECON

Note to editors: A picture taken during the event is broadcast on CCN-Matthews or available upon request.

Picture credit: Nancy Lessard

Contact Information

  • For an interview request:
    Massy-Forget Public Relations
    Elaine Mayrand
    514-842-2455, extension 24
    Cell.: 514-582-5599
    Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal
    Danielle Decelles
    514-733-8216, extension 2711
    Cell.: 514-264-1764