Pointe Claire nuns on the move

Anthony Abbondanza
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After spending over two centuries living in the Notre-Dame-du-Vieux-Moulin Convent in a Pointe Claire Village area known as “la Pointe Claire,” the 19 remaining sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame are moving, the Chronicle has learned.

The sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame will move to undetermined convents in the Montreal area by December.

Though the convent’s Sister Ange-Aimee Roy confirmed the move, she said “there’s no reason to give as to why we’re moving.”

According multiple sources, the nuns are being relocated to convents in Montreal – that have yet to be determined – by December because the historical site is “very expensive to maintain.”

The Congregation of Notre Dame moved into the convent in 1787, following an agreement with the owner, St. Joachim Parish, that the nuns could use the facility free of charge for as long as they taught young school girls. In 1867, the present Notre-Dame-du-Vieux-Moulin convent was built to replace an aging and deteriorating building. The nuns now use the convent as a retirement home.

From convent to condos?

The question remains, however, as to the future use of the convent once its present occupants leave.

The “Pointe” area is known to be highly coveted by developers and a lucrative offer could attract the parish to sell the convent.

The St. Joachim Parish owns most of the area that’s home to the emblematic windmill, convent, presbytery, and the church – all of which are presently safe from developers since March 2013 when the former Pointe Claire city council declared the area a heritage site, a year after the province made a similar designation.

At the time of the heritage designation, the then mayor Bill McMurchie told the Chronicle he’d be surprised to see future councils reverse the designation by way of order of council.

According to a source close to the situation, the parish’s intentions, to date, are unclear and the city is taking a wait-and-see approach.

Despite the designation and the subsequent zoning change –and the preceding lengthy public consultation attached to it - required should the parish attempt to sell the convent, the Pointe Claire Historical Preservation Society is keeping a close eye on the latest developments.

“It would be surprising but you never know with heritage sites,” said the society’s president Claude Arsenault, adding the city needs to “ensure its preservation and access to the public.”

In April, urban planning consulting firm Convercite released a detailed diagnosis of the Pointe Claire Village, in part signalling what it described as weaknesses, including “the involvement of the city and its departments in heritage interpretation, and concerted action with citizens and organizations with an interest in heritage issues.”

The 22-page report indicated the need to highlight the historical importance of the area known as “la Pointe Claire” as it would add value to the Village.

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Organizations: Pointe Claire Historical Preservation Society

Geographic location: Pointe Claire, Montreal, Notre Dame

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  • Judy Walton
    July 10, 2014 - 04:21

    I am glad the nuns are given the option to relocate. It would be very sad indeed if they had no where to go and no options after so many years of dedication to the church. I hope they are taken care of and that the promise is not rescinded by our government which so often happens.