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Historic Sites of Manitoba: Trappist Monastery Ruins and Guesthouse (St. Norbert, Winnipeg)

Monsignor Ritchot, parish priest of St. Norbert, and Archbishop Taché of St. Boniface invited five Cistercians of the Trappist Order from the Abbey of Bellefontaine, France, to establish a monastery here in 1892. The community was named Our Lady of the Prairies. The Romanesque Revival church was built in 1903-04 and the connecting monastic wing in 1905. The guesthouse was erected in 1912 on the foundations of the first church building. This self-sufficient monastery included milking barns, stables, granaries, butter and cheese factory, bakery, apiary, shoemaker’s shop, forge, sawmill, cannery, and greenhouses.

By 1978, the Trappists had moved to a site near Holland to protect their contemplative life from the effects of urban sprawl from the encroaching City of Winnipeg. In 1983, fire gutted the vacated church and residential wing at St. Norbert, which are now surrounded by a fence to protect them from further vandalism.

The adjacent guesthouse was built by the monks in 1912 on the foundations of the original 1892 monastery which itself had been converted into a guesthouse in 1906 before being destroyed by fire in 1912. It escaped the 1983 fire and has been renovated into the St. Norberts Arts Centre.

In 2003, a plaque was erected at the site by the Manitoba Heritage Council. The renovated guesthouse was recognized with a Heritage Winnipeg Preservation Award in 1996 and the ruins themselves were likewise acknowledged in 2010. The guest house is a municipally-designated historic site.

Trappist Monastery Ruins and Guesthouse

West view of the Trappist Monastery ruins (June 2011)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Trappist Monastery Ruins and Guesthouse

East view of the Trappist Monastery ruins (June 2011)
Source: Gordon Goldsborough

Site Location (lat/long): N49.75708, W97.15445
denoted by symbol on the map above

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Provincially Designated Historic Sites

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Municipally Designated Historic Sites

Sources:

Trappist Monastery Ruins (rue du Monastere), Manitoba Historic Resources Branch.

Trappist Monastery Guesthouse (due du Monastere), Manitoba Historic Resources Branch.

Information for this page was collected and prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 22 November 2013

Historical Sites of Manitoba

A collection of historic sites in Manitoba compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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