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The Restoration Project

Exterior Restoration

The exterior restoration work is divided into 8 phases, as follows:

  • Securing phase (completed): Securing the various facades and pinnacles with the installation of nets.
Duration: 1 year
Year of completion: 2018

  • Phase 1 (completed): Restoration of the north facade (rue Notre-Dame), including the three sculptures in the niches on the north facade: the Immaculate Conception (representing Montreal), Saint-Jean-Baptiste (representing Quebec) and Saint-Joseph (patron saint of Canada).
Approximate duration: 18 months
Period: July 2020 to December 2021

  • Phase 2 (in progress): Restoration of the west tower (Perseverance)
Approximate duration: 3 years
Period: August 2021 - ongoing
Estimated completion: July 2024

  • Phase 3 (in progress): Restoration of the east tower (Temperance)
Approximate duration: 2.5 years
Period: 2024 to 2026
Estimated completion: 2026 

  • Phase 4 (to come): Restoration of the east facade (rue Saint-Sulpice), including the exterior staircase area, pinnacle deformations and stone deterioration
Approximate duration: 1.5 years
Period: 2026-2027
Estimated completion: 2027

  • Phase 5 (to come): Restoration of the south façade, including the Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Cœur chapel
Approximate duration: 12 to 18 months
Period: 2027 to 2028
Estimated completion: 2028

  • Phase 6 (coming soon): Restoration of the west facade (Sulpicians side)
Approximate duration: 1.5 years
Period: 2029-2030
Estimated completion: 2030

  • Phase 7 (coming soon): More information to follow shortly.
  • Phase 8 (coming soon): More information to follow shortly

Interior Restoration

Restoration work on the interior décor is scheduled to start after the completion of the exterior and is expected to be completed throughout 2 to 5 years. Most of the elements to be restored will be, in order of priority :

1. The painted decorations including the walls of the nave and rood screens, and the vaulted ceilings including gold leaf

2. Baptismal baptismal font

3. The stained-glass windows

More information on the restoration will follow. Thank you for your understanding.

Restoring Notre-Dame

The Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal constitutes the jewel of Old Montréal. A must-see attraction, it still plays an active role in the urban fabric of the city of Montreal. Erected between 1824 and 1829, Notre-Dame's main body is sixty-five metres long and thirty-seven metres wide. The towers were erected between 1841 and 1843 and rise sixty-five metres above the forecourt. The Basilica is a tour de force of massive masonry. Its stones are of inescapable importance to the history of Montreal.

The west tower is called Perseverance. Since 1848, it has housed one of the world's largest bells, the brass drone Jean-Baptiste, weighing in at over 10,000 kilos (eleven tons). The east tower is called Temperance. It is equipped with a ten-bell carillon. The drone and carillon bells were all cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in England. Given the advanced age of the stones (soon to be 200 years) and the significant presence of stylolites (sedimentation beds) within them, the stones this have a greater permeability during bad weather, and thus, erode. When the building envelope was first constructed in the 19th century, there was no flashing to protect the stone architectural bands from the elements such as snow and rain. Lead flashings were belatedly installed in the 1930s. Over time, the pressure caused by natural elements created cracks throughout the masonry, particularly in the upper parts of the walls and towers.

On the west tower side, water infiltration within the massive masonry led to the displacement of facing stones to the point of creating dangerous situations that threatened the towers' integrity as well as the public's safety. These situations were the subject of temporary interventions which were kept under surveillance. The east tower has suffered severe deterioration, with numerous cracks and fractures in the stones, hollowing out of mortar joints and displacement of stones. Similar work to that carried out on the west tower will soon be undertaken on the east tower, over more than two years.

Restoration of the towers is currently underway. In addition to the repair and inevitable replacement of numerous stones, this includes the maintenance of wooden elements, such as windows and louvre-like structures placed in front of the bells to project the sound emitted by them - which need to be repaired and repainted. Waterproofing membranes are also being installed on the upper levels, metal flashings replaced, and the interior rubble of the bell towers repointed.

This masonry work requires a great deal of care and time. As the Basilica remains operational, special measures are being taken to ensure public access and worker safety. Step by step, sections of facing were removed and replaced with new limestone of the same nature as the original, which will eventually become one with the existing stone over time.

The main facade between the two towers, whose crenellated parapet threatened to collapse, has now been restored and the upper part of the wall rebuilt. The three magnificent statues, placed in the niches in 1865, were in a condition unworthy of their artistic value. With the help of the Centre de conservation du Québec, they were restored with care and finesse during the first phase of the present project, in 2021. By way of background, these statues were cast in cement, using a patented technique, by Geatano Baccerini (1825-1895) from plaster models by sculptor Charles-Olivier Dauphin (1807-1874): the Immaculate Conception (representing Montreal), Saint-Jean-Baptiste (representing Quebec) and Saint-Joseph (patron saint of Canada).

The Basilica's interior decoration was originally designed by architect James O'Donnell and was very simplistic in style. It received a second decorative program between 1872 and 1880, designed and directed by the renowned architect Victor Bourgeau in a much more elaborate Gothic style. This explains the contrast between the sober exterior and the dazzling interior with its polychrome, gold-leaf painted decoration. From the canvases to the sculptures, from the rosettes to the windows, from the polychrome decoration to the gold leaf, the restoration of the interior also required considerable financial effort on the part of the fabrique Notre-Dame de Montréal.

To preserve the austere majesty of our Basilica's exterior and interior beauty, Notre-Dame needs your support. This iconic site must remain timeless as long as the history of Montreal endures.

We thank you for your generosity.