The Sacred Places

When Catholic believers decided to form a parish and celebrate their faith communally, they preferred to hold their meetings in a place built and reserved for that end, most often a chapel or a church. Not only did the Catholic Church have a tremendous influence on architecture in Quebec, it instilled a very visible and tangible presence by dotting the landscape with sacred places that fit within the space of the communities.


Sur un chemin de campagne bordé d'arbres, de maisons et d'une croix de chemin, un vieillard se repose au bord d'un ruisseau alors qu'un fermier fait promener ses vaches. / On a country road lined with trees, houses and a cross, an old man rests by a creek while a farmer walks his cows.

La croix de chemin, undated

in Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Montréal, Le chemin de croix, 1916
Musée de la civilisation, Musée chinois des missions des Jésuites Collection, 90-7010

Road Crosses

There are several Crosses put up by the roadside, which is parallel to the shores of the river. These crosses are very common in Canada, and are put up to excite devotion in the traveller. They are made of wood, five or six yards high, and proportionally broad. In that side which looks towards the road is a square hole, in which they place an image of our Saviour, the cross, or of the holy Virgin, with the child in her arms, and before that they put a piece of glass, to prevent its being spoiled by the weather. Those crosses, which are not far from churches, are very much adorned (...). A figure of the cock, which crowed when St. Peter denied our Lord, is commonly put at the top of the cross. (See Pehr Kalm)




Vue d'une baie en bordure du fleuve Saint-Laurent. Des riverains canotent sur l'eau près d'une petite île où est dressée une croix. / View of a bay on the St. Lawrence; riverside inhabitants canoe near a small island on which a cross stands.

L'Islet on the St. Lawrence, undated

R. Young
in John J. Bigsby, The shoe and canoe, or, Pictures of travel in the Canadas : illustrative of their scenery and of colonial life, with facts and opinions on emigration, state policy and other points of public interest, 1850
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 588.6.6




Au pied de la croix de Gaspé, Jacques Cartier et ses hommes s'entretiennent avec des Amérindiens. / At the foot of the Gaspé cross, Jacques Cartier and his men converse with Amerindians.

Conférence entre Jacques Cartier et les sauvages de Stadaconé, 6 mai 1536, 1859

Samuel C. Hawkett
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Collection, 1991.78




Devant un autel improvisé en pleine nature, quatre hommes assistent à la messe donnée par un prêtre. / In front of an improvised altar in the midst of wilderness, four men attend mass celebrated by a priest.

Première messe sur le Mont-Royal, 1974

Paul Vanier Beaulieu
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Collection, 1992.5426




Le long d'un chemin en terre battue, une chapelle et une grotte en pierre dédiée à Sainte-Anne se détachent d'un paysage boisé. / Along a dirt road, a chapel and a stone grotto dedicated to St. Anne stands out against a forest landscape.

Chapel and Grotto at Ste. Anne de Beaupré, undated

L.R. O'Brien
in H.A. Ogden, Picturesque Canada, vol. 1, 1882
Musée de la civilisation, Séminaire de Québec Library, 291.7.22