The Grey Nuns of Montreal want to change one of the city’s oldest buildings into a modern museum and educational centre.
The Youville Mother House, dating from 1693, was originally Montreal’s first general hospital. Afterward, it was the longtime home of the Grey Nuns.
“Our mission was very much alive in this house for 100 years,” said Sister Aurore Larking, superior general with the Grey Nuns. “It became too small at a certain point, and we moved.”
The nuns own the building, and in conjunction with the Université de Montréal, they now want to revitalize their old home.
Exhibits would also include the “Room for the Poor,” basically unchanged since the congregation used it to distribute food to the needs in the 17th century. Marguerite Youville’s old room would also be on display. The vaulted cellar, used for storage hundreds of years ago, would be home to artifacts.
The proposed new modern museum and educational centre, called “Espace Marguerite Youville,” is a $35-million project that would rely on government funding. Governments, however, have not yet committed to help funding it.
“We’re ready to move and we’re waiting,” said Larkin.
“It’s something that should be on the list of projects to support,” said Dinu Bumbaru of Heritage Montreal.
Without government support, for now the ambitious project will have to wait.