The Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica is the oldest and largest church in the City of Ottawa. Declared a National Historic Site by the Government of Canada in 1990, it is a true jewel of Canadian religious art, rich in history.
Raise your head and admire this huge architectural work in a Gothic style, the two imposing spires, the bell towers, and the ashlars. You are looking at a heritage jewel of Ottawa's French community.
It was not until 1828 that the itinerant missionaries began to take steps to build a chapel. Before that, the inhabitants had no place to gather. Finally, the project of a small wooden chapel was quickly transformed into a larger stone church thanks to the parish priest Jean-François Cannon in 1839, for which the construction started in 1841.
After being moved across the street, the existing wooden chapel was destroyed by a fire.
Throughout this large-scale project, one figure stands out, that of Father Damase Dandurand, who became parish priest in 1848. His ambition to offer a quality place of worship for the population transformed the church project into a true architectural cathedral.
In 1858, the façade of the cathedral had two bell towers with lanterns erected, and the first organ made its appearance. Built by Joseph Casavant, from La Maison Casavant, a company that still exists.
In the absence of Mgr. Guigues, the parish priest Dandurand had an apse (the semicircular part behind the choir) built in secret in the Gothic style, offering a magnificent choir and sanctuary for episcopal ceremonies, as well as a crypt below.
Back in 1865, Mgr. Guigues was surprised by the turn of events and put an end to the work. A statue of the Virgin finally replaced it to make people forget about the work accomplished without his permission.
However, a few years later, Father Georges Bouillon took over the work of Father Dandurand with the help of a team of French-Canadian artisans, ornamentalists, cabinetmakers, and French Canadian sculptors (Louis-Philippe Hébert, Flavien Rochon, Philippe Pariseau, etc.).
The cathedral's interior design took shape between 1878 and 1885.
In 1879, the first stained glass windows were installed by a master glass artist, and the cathedral was granted the status of minor basilica by Pope Leo XIII.
In 1892, Joseph Casavant's son completely rebuilt the organ and installed an entirely electro-pneumatic instrument. It was quite an innovation at the time.