Initiated in 2013 by a couple in love with the arts and built heritage, the Livart, which is located in the former rectory and convent of the Rosary and St. Jude Shrine, officially opened its doors to the public in 2016.

Livart is located on unceded Aboriginal lands. The Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Nation is recognized as the custodian of the lands and waters of Tiohtià:ke (Montreal), which has long served as a place for many First Nations to live, meet and exchange. Livart also wishes to recognize the strong ties that unite the Anishinaabe Nation to this territory known by these people as Mooniyang. Today, the Tiohtià:ke / Mooniyang lands are home to a diverse Aboriginal population, as well as people from other peoples who reside there. We respect the ongoing connections to the past, present and future in our relationships with Aboriginal Peoples and other members of the Montreal community.

Sanctuary of the Rosary and Saint-Jude

Livart occupies the former premises of the Rosary and St. Jude Shrine, located in the heart of Plateau-Mont-Royal and established by the Dominican friars in 1954. Once a typical religious settlement in one of Montreal’s liveliest commercial areas, the site straddles the former municipal districts of Saint-Jean-Baptiste and Saint-Louis, which in the early 19th century were owned by a few large landowners. In the early 1870’s, residential development began in the area and four entrepreneurs: Ferdinard David, Sévère Rivard, Michel Laurent and Gustave S. Drolet bought the land to proceed with their subdivision. Drolet bought the land to proceed with their subdivision.

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Creation of a new English-speaking parish

The first real occupation of the lots occupied by the St. Jude Shrine, also known as the Rosary Shrine, was by the English-speaking Catholic parish of St. Agnes (Magnan, 1952). Established in 1905, its creation dates back to August 10, 1903 when a petition calling for a new English-speaking parish by the parishioners of Saint-Jean-Baptiste was submitted to Mgr. Paul Bruchesi, Archbishop of Montreal. The following year, he granted the wish of the faithful by making the project official on April 21, 1904 in the newspaper The Gazette. The site, on the border of the St-Louis and St-Jean-Baptiste districts, was chosen and approved on June 25, 1904 by Mgr. Bruchesi.

These are the steps that led to the creation and the first beginnings of existing buildings today.

Construction of a heritage building

On November 27 of the same year, the house on the neighbouring property on Saint-Denis Street was purchased to serve as a temporary presbytery. The construction of the Catholic parish church was entrusted to the young architect Alphonse Piché (1874-1938), and completed in 1905. The resulting building is of late neo-Gothic influence, with a cruciform plan and flat chevet, whose composition is similar to that of Catholic churches in Ireland. It was in 1932, still housed in the house next to the church, that the parish decided to build a real presbytery. On April 25, the project was entrusted to architect Edward J. Turcotte (1894-1975) and was completed in 1933. The building, as it is known today, is a two-story Tudor Revival building with a large oriel window on the right side of the façade, rectangular windows and an ornamented portal. The interior is richly decorated with moldings and woodwork as well as faux wood beams on the ceiling that add character to the rooms.

Transfer of the building to the Dominican monks

In May 1953, due to an exodus of the English-speaking population to the west of the island, the parish announced its closure. The last offices were celebrated in July of the same year and his change of vocation was announced in favor of an oratory which would be entrusted to the Dominicans, established in the country since 1873 and who at that time experienced an expansion of their order.

From Saint-Jude sanctuary to Livart

On September 18, 1953, the Dominicans undertook the acquisition of what is known today as the Saint-Jude sanctuary by purchasing the two houses adjacent to the presbytery (3968 and 3676 Saint-Denis). They then proceeded to the acquisition of the Church and the presbytery on May 19, 1954 before finally buying the house north of the Church in 1963 (demolished in 1970 for the construction of a garage). Following these acquisitions, the presbytery will house the offices of the Dominican community, common rooms and bedrooms. The following year (1964), a convent was built and furnished, a modern three-storey concrete building with yellow brick cladding and an interior courtyard. The most modern section of the building complex, the building was designed according to the plans of architect Yves Bélanger (1909-1978).

The buildings occupied their function of sanctuary until 2004 when, unable to keep the premises in good condition, the Dominicans resigned themselves to changing the vocation of the site.

The borough and the Montreal heritage council wanted to keep the buildings for the purpose of representing the heritage of the neighborhood.

Listed for sale in the fall of 2006, the sanctuary was bought separately by several investors and the buildings were successively converted to serve other functions. Under the initiative of Cindy Tessier-Trudeau and Marc O’Brien-Miro, with great perseverance, innovative ideas and a vision for the future for the heritage and dynamism of the neighborhood, the non-profit organization Livart, which occupies the old buildings of the presbytery and the convent, is born. The art center has housed an art gallery, artist studios, an art school and a multipurpose room, since its opening on October 20, 2016, and the founder has served as managing director ever since.