Curiosities and Treasures
Maison Saint-Gabriel is highlighting 50 years of museum life with a new exhibit: Curiosities and Treasures. This exhibit includes remarkable objects and works, selected for the history they reveal. Some of them have belonged to the Congrégation de Notre-Dame for more than 300 years and others made their way into the museum’s collection under fascinating circumstances, but they all have a major significance for history. An exceptional collection!
The Canadian horse, a unique breed
Between 1665 and 1671, about 82 horses arrived in New France. Raised in isolation, their descendants adapted perfectly to the difficult climate of Canada and created a new species, the Canadian horse. The horse population grew rapidly, reaching roughly 14,000 in 1763. This exhibit highlights the 350th anniversary of this historic event.
Starting a family
Mission accomplished for the King’s Wards! In 1700, the population of New France tripled and, for the first time, the number of settlers born in the country exceeded the number of immigrants who came from France. Yet, in this new country, life was not easy. Inventive and tenacious, the King’s Wards used all of their talents to bring their children into this world, raise them and educate them. Proud to be starting a family!
Venture into the New World
The King’s Wards boarded ships at La Rochelle Harbour for the long crossing, which would last three months! Where did they come from? Who were they? What was their dowry? What would their destiny be?
Two of a kind
Objects of seduction, work and comfort, shoes reflect the evolution of customs and fashion. From the moccasin to the ballerina slipper, not to mention the French-Canadian boot, this educational exhibit traces the history of shoes in Québec, with a glance at 21st-century fashion.
Pewter: an alloy of art and life
Throughout the 17th century and up to the early 19th century, pewter was the material most often used to make small tableware items for serving, pouring, eating and drinking. The museum has a major pewter collection which it is unveiling in this new exhibit.
At the crossroads of art and industry, the Glass cycles exhibit traces the history of glass in Montréal, from the time of handcrafted objects to the industrial production that started in the 19th century. Since that time, glass objects have invaded our daily lives. Precious or common-place, they can be re-used or recycled at the end of their life, and serve yet again. The exhibit focuses on glass, the glass industry and glass recycling, through the history of the plant, which has been located, since 1905, on land that formerly belonged to Maison Saint-Gabriel, in Pointe-Saint-Charles.
For the very first time, Maison Saint-Gabriel is displaying its silver collection, linking the work of contemporary silversmiths and traditional methods. Approximately 50 pieces will be displayed, the oldest dating back to 1695 and the most recent made in 2001. French pieces from the 17th century, domestic silverware and Quebec masterpieces... These beautiful objects have a wonderful history to tell.
The Gardens of History – 1608-1760
This history of gardens started during a period when botanical knowledge was in full bloom. The inhabitants of the St. Lawrence Valley discovered another kind of nature, rich in unknown plants, but in an area where the climate was harsh. They brought their own plants, their seeds and their know-how with them. It was a conflict between two worlds, with the settlers’ need to feed and care for themselves in the background. What took place in the 17th and 18th centuries in the gardens of farmhouses, convents, apothecaries, nobles and colonists?
An Iron in Time
From China to North America, the iron has a full history, which has been influenced by developments in fabrics, fashion and technology. This exhibit takes you through a universe that speaks of inventions, lifestyles, the art of ironing… and art for its own sake.
Practice Makes Perfect…
Quebec artists of the 18th and 19th centuries manufactured works of art with modesty, perseverance and a formidable sense of the esthetic. They created a unique style, providing a source to re-launch the decorative arts of the 20th century.
A Happy Threesome
A Happy Threesome, or how nature inspired art and poetry here, from the time of New France to the present. A harmonious, lasting threesome that has survived through the centuries brilliantly. Presented in the exhibit room in the barn, A Happy Threesome takes on its full meaning as part of the museum’s exceptional site. With its abundant flowers and the farmhouse garden recreated in the style of the 17th century, the site provides an excellent illustration of all aspects of the creative force of nature.
Between Heaven and Hell
With its new exhibit for 2004, Maison Saint-Gabriel turns a page in the history of Quebec that is rarely examined... that of the daily lives of the thousands of people who determinedly applied themselves to saving their souls. The exhibit Between Heaven and Hell traces the popular rituals, practices and beliefs of the past centuries: pilgrimages to brotherhoods, an entire wealth of devotions that guaranteed those who practiced them a means to find the path to heaven and avoid a trip to hell.
Living in the here and now or living for eternal salvation... a matter of philosophy, personal choice, and also social pressure that influenced each and every one. Over the past centuries in Montreal, a city founded with an evangelical mission, the choice was clear and undeniable: people had to live and, above all, save their souls.
However, in daily life, pragmatism and personal tastes took precedence, adding colour, life and occasionally spectacular mystery to all the rituals. It is this popular aspect that the new 2004 exhibit prepared by Maison Saint-Gabriel highlights. It will remind the most senior about a time when pilgrimages and processions provided an intense expression of faith. The exhibit Between Heaven and Hell evokes the worship of the Saints and the Holy Virgin, the way in which life was lived prior to a time when stardom has become so popular. It lifts the veil from the brotherhoods, which are still covered in mystery. It reveals the small pious gestures performed day in and day out in an effort to earn a place in paradise.
On the school benches of French North America
From May 8 to December 19, 2003, Maison Saint-Gabriel will host its new traveling exhibit: On the school benches of French North America. This exhibit traces, with a teacher’s hand, the adventure of French schooling in North America from the time the first colonists arrived in the 17th century. It brings to life the day-to-day experience of “small schools” and shows us how the school has been and still is the reflection of our society.
In the 17th century, you were knowledgeable if you could read, write and count. And education wasn’t for everyone... In France, in an effort to promote literacy, the clerics and the teaching communities initiated “small schools”, and women, for the most part, worked to make them both free and public.
Two women also played a major role in establishing schools in New France. In 1639, Marie de l'Incarnation opened the first teaching institution in New France, at the Ursulines’ convent in Quebec City. In 1658, Marguerite Bourgeoys opened the first school in Ville-Marie. It was a co-educational school where children received instruction in the catechism, for the first time in French instead of Latin. The children also learned to read and, if they remained long enough, to write and count. “And as for writing, it will merely make poor girls waste time that they could put to use for other things.” (Jeanne LeBer) Obviously, these “other things” included household chores “ ...and other types of work appropriate for their persons and their condition, teaching them how to behave properly and make their own clothing.”
Thus, in 1668, when Marguerite Bourgeoys purchased Maison Saint-Gabriel, she first opened a sewing room, the “ouvroir de la Providence”, which was a type of housekeeping school where twenty young girls from Ville-Marie learned to keep house, embroider and spin wool.
Over the centuries, the “small” French school extended from Acadia to the Canadian West, generally under the supervision of the religious communities. The idea of knowledge and school developed as society changed. In 1960, education was deconfessionalized. Yet, today, the Congrégation de Notre-Dame, the community founded by Marguerite Bourgeoys, continues to play an important role in the education of women, throughout the world.
A rose by another name...
Celebrated by poets, artists and artisans, the rose is truly the queen of flowers. It is an important symbol in the Christian faith and its fragrance has inspired great chefs, apothecaries and chemists. The rose has so much to tell...
One child... one dream
Parents have always dreamed of a better life for their children. Dreams of education, of happiness and of a long, healthy life. This exhibition captures these dreams from times past until now and surveys the education given to ‘Canadian’ and ‘Indian’ children in the old days.
From the very beginning of the colony, the way children were reared here differed dramatically from traditional French educational methods based on fears. In 1706, district administrator Jacques Raudot wrote: “Like the Savages, the inhabitants of this country have feelings of foolish tenderness for their children and therefore cannot properly discipline them and make them into honourable men.”
Maison Saint-Gabriel explores those two worlds and ways of living that have profoundly influenced one another. Discover what the first settlers and the Iroquois and Algonguin cultures believed about childhood and what their customs were, from the time of their marriage to the birth of the first child, and then through their children’s tender years. You will see how these customs and beliefs interacted.
The Mark of Time
The Mark of Time features traditional architecture under the French Regime and one of the 17th century’s most significant examples of the style: Maison Saint-Gabriel. Discover its inner beauty.
This exhibition wa organized in association with l’École d’architecture de l’Université de Montréal and the CAO research group and was possible by the financial assistance of the Department of Canadian Heritage, the ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec and the Service de la Culture of the Ville de Montréal.
The bell invites me...
Quite apart from their symbolic meanings, bells probably hold the world record for the most widely heard means of communication.
Bells announce both the happy and unhappy events. They warn of danger. They regulate and embellish our lives. They are always talking to us.
Bells speak a very precise language. Do we understand them?