Photo: Cephas The file for the protection of the Domaine du Petit Cap, erected in 1777, had been under study for more than twenty years.
Faced with the delay in a number of files on legal protections to be provided to elements of Quebec heritage, the minister responsible, Mathieu Lacombe, carried out a bulk classification on Tuesday, while ensuring that his ministry would now be faster .
The Ministry of Culture and Communications (MCC) had before it 81 “in agreement” files. Clearly, the wait for several cases has lasted for years. Sometimes decades.
Minister Lacombe signed legal notices for “36 new heritage elements”, among which however slip several “events” or historical “figures” which touch on the intangible rather than the 'to goods strictly speaking.
More than twenty years of waiting
Among the properties newly classified by the Minister of Culture and Communications, it is difficult to explain why the Domaine du Petit Cap, an exceptional building whose construction dates back to 1777 , was still not subject to any protection. Planted in the middle of the landscape of Cap Tourmente, equipped with a chapel, the place belongs to the Séminaire de Québec. According to documents consulted byLe Devoir, the classification file had been filed since March 23, 2000. It therefore took more than two decades for the MCC to grant this unique 18th century place legal protection.
In the case of the old Winter prison in Sherbrooke, all made of stone, a first classification file was submitted to the ministry in 1990. It has finally been classified by the Quebec state.
The MCC has committed to henceforth processing classification requests “more diligently” so “that the resulting decisions are made public in a transparent manner to the people and organizations concerned”. How does he plan to achieve this?
Cathedral, church, bourgeois house, covered bridge…
In Montreal, the site of the former Hôtel-Dieu hospital was the subject of a classification proposal since 2018, a year after its official, long-planned closure. Its status has just been ratified by the minister, who also protects the place's chapel, erected in 1859. Also in Montreal, the Collège Mont Saint-Louis, founded in 1888, benefits from the attention of the State.
In Laval, the Saint-Maurice-Duvernay church and its real estate are now protected under the law. This is the only modern building affected by this bulk classification. Designed by the imaginative architect Roger D’Astous, this church notably houses a stained glass window by the artist Jean-Paul Mousseau.
Among the properties which will be able to benefit from “the support” of the MCC are, in Bas-Saint-Laurent, in Rimouski more precisely, several elements of the Cathedral of Saint-Germain, designed by the architect Victor Bourgeau: painting, tabernacle, ciborium as well as the shell of the building itself. The building, one of the region's jewels, has been closed to the public since 2014. The public was even kept at a distance by a fence until last summer. Its future remains unclear, since major work is required.
Photo: MCC The Province Hill covered bridge, built in 1896, is one of the rare structures of this type still standing.
In Estrie, the Province Hill wooden covered bridge, an exceptional construction from 1896 set aside in 1967, is receiving protection. It is one of the rare covered bridges of this quality still standing in Quebec. In Sherbrooke, the old Winter prison, all made of stone, also obtained state protection. More modest, the all-white wayside cross on Chemin du Bassin, located between Cookshire-Eaton and East-Angus, also becomes a listed heritage property. It was maintained, throughout almost the entire 20th century, by the families of neighboring believers, including that of the farmer Conrad Vermette.
Photo: Jean-François Nadeau The cross on Chemin du Bassin, located near Cookshire-Eaton.
In Outaouais, the estate of the patriot Louis-Joseph Papineau, a major figure in Quebec and Canadian history, is protected by the state. The tribune, famous for his role in the revolutions of 1837-1838 and for his opposition to the Canadian confederal project of 1867, died in 1871. He is the grandfather of the founder of Devoir. p>
The owners of all these properties now classified can hope to count on the support of the Ministry, affirms its holder, “to ensure the transmission of these goods to future generations.”
In some cases, does protection come too late? The immense bourgeois house, called Château Zoé-Turgeon, located in Ange-Gardien, has been abandoned for more than thirty years, although the municipality has the power, under the law, to intervene to curb its accelerated degradation. In 2020, given the urgency of the situation, a file was submitted to the MCC in Quebec so that the State could act without further delay. The house obtained a classification three years later.
Photo: The evolution of built heritage and landscapes The Zoé-Turgeon castle located in Ange-Gardien has been abandoned for more than 30 years old, despite several representations for him to be saved.
The minister indicated that the files which remain under study, as well as the next proposals which will be transmitted to the MCC, “will be the subject of a decision within a maximum period of 18 months for the majority of requests”.
In many cases, the study of the files took several years. Time and lack of maintenance may have done their disastrous work in the meantime.
The minister now promises deadlines of 18 months to process files. Which does not include the time needed to approve any new classification under its authority. The law on cultural heritage provides that the service of a notice of intention to classify involves additional deadlines. From the issuance of a notice of intention to classify, the MCC still has one year to officially classify a property, if it so desires after a new examination. This deadline can even be extended for another year, as has regularly been done. In other words, between the moment a file is presented and a classification decision is made, several years may still pass.
Among the batch of strictly symbolic designations announced on Tuesday, the MCC recognizes as a historical personality the businessman Julien-Édouard-Alfred Dubuc, the head of the Chicoutimi Pulp Company between the wars. The State also casts an aura over the figure of the Republican Ludger Duvernay, publisher of the newspaper La Minerve, first organizer in 1834 of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a society for the defense of national interests. The minister also grants state blessing to the figure of Jos Montferrand, a famous French-Canadian strongman involved in multiple fights in labor conflicts.
The ministry also targeted, with its authority, two practices intangible: the “know-how and practices associated with fisheries” in the St. Lawrence and jigging. This is, once again, a symbolic recognition of “living witnesses to our identity”.