The Catholic Community

The Sainte-Agathe Parish Presbytery

37 Principale Street East

The first Catholic presbytery in the parish was built around 1865. Before its construction, Abbé J.N. Ritchot and Curé Antoine Giguère, the first two parish priests, lodged upstairs of the chapel. During the summer of 1885, the current curé, Théophile Thibodeau, organized a bazaar to fund construction of a new, brick-clad presbytery. The building was destroyed in a fire three years later, taking the life of Father Thibodeau as he tried to fight it. Curé Hétu succeeded him, and undertook the construction of a new presbytery, this time in wood. That building too would be destroyed by fire.

The current presbytery was completed in 1928. The architecture of this imposing building is remarkable, brilliantly integrating a variety of early-20th-century styles. Note the gargoyles designed to carry rainwater from the roof, and the typical covered gallery. The presbytery has been listed as a heritage property by the City of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts since 1993.

The presbytery in 1888.

(Principale Street, in front of the presbytery)
“D'en haut émane la lumière...”

Sainte-Agathe Catholic Church

41 Principale Street East

Worshipers were originally served by a mission led by the Curé of Sainte-Adèle, until the Parish of Sainte-Agathe was created in 1861. A larger wooden church replaced the original chapel-presbytery in 1865. Forty years later, with space becoming insufficient to accommodate the growing population, construction began on a magnificent stone church, which was blessed in August 1907.

The first church erected in 1865 with the original Filles de la Sagesse Convent behind.

Sainte-Agathe Catholic Church (cont.)

Parishioners wanted it to be the finest church in the North, as beautiful as a cathedral in the hope that it would become the bishop’s see, and in response, architects Gauthier and Daoust of Montreal were apparently inspired by Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Sainte-Agathe Church is indeed reminiscent of the Neo-Romanesque style with its arched windows and crenellated towers.

Many craftsmen from the area helped build the church. The painted ornamentations were entrusted to Toussaint Xénophon Renaud, a renowned church decorator. After the Vatican II liturgical reforms in the 1960s, the paintings were plastered over. In 1930, two Casavant Brothers organs were installed; they were restored in 1980. The painted stained-glass windows, dating from 1954, were designed by Charles Stefanoff, and the stations of the cross are the work of the Bourgault brothers.

Because of structural problems, the towers had to be shortened by 18 feet in 1957, but this did not compromise the appearance of the church, which has been listed as a heritage property by the City of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts since 1993.

The church has been listed as a heritage property in the municipal registry since 1993.

(1) The church as erected in 1907.
(2) The church after the towers were modified in 1957.

Optional detour to the train station
(Point 12, away from the main walking tour)
From the church, you can walk to the train station: proceed down Sainte-Agathe Street to Saint-Paul Street East, then turn right on Saint-Paul East and walk to the end, crossing Route 117.
(1.5-kilometre return trip).

Virtual Tour (50 sec.)

Sources: Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, une ville, des histoires, a film by Guy Fradette, 2013 (in French)

Filles de la Sagesse Convent

77 Principale Street East
(current site of the Caisse Desjardins – civic number not visible from the street)

Built in 1894-95, the area’s first institution for the schooling of young girls was run by the Congregation of the Filles de la Sagesse (Daughters of Wisdom). The convent included dormitories for the boarders and nuns, classrooms, a dining hall, and a chapel. In 1909, the building was destroyed by fire; fortunately, no one died. When rebuilt the following year, the convent welcomed 200 primary and secondary school students. The “cours commercial” (business classes) were also taught.

Even before the education reforms enacted in the mid-1960s, construction had been completed on the Notre-Dame-de-la-Sagesse school, reserved for girls’ primary and secondary school education. Boys still went to school at the Collège Sacré-Cœur.

As the teaching staff gradually became secularized, the Sisters continued to take part in the girls’ education, dispense nursing care, and provide pastoral instruction. But their numbers dwindled rapidly, and the old convent was eventually too large for the small number of nuns who still lived there; it was torn down some ten years after the last few moved out. Sainte-Agathe’s Caisse populaire now stands on this spot.

(1) The first convent, destroyed by fire in 1909.
(2) The second building, built in 1910 and demolished in the 1980s (rear view).

Notre-Dame-de-la-Sagesse School

37 Larocque Street
(located behind the church)

Built in 1953, this school was originally run by the Congregation of the Filles de la Sagesse. Only girls attended, at both primary and secondary levels. In 1966, secondary school classes were moved to a new building, and Notre-Dame-de-la-Sagesse was eventually opened to both girls and boys. Today, the school has a population of close to 600 students, some of whom are in special education classes.

More primary schools were built over the years. Students can attend secondary school at the Polyvalente des Monts, or can choose among enriched programs available at other Commission scolaire des Laurentides schools.

(1) Gym class, Notre-Dame de la Sagesse School between 1953 and 1965. Photographer unknown, P550, Archives-FDLS Canada/MSA; uncredited commercial autorisation.
(2) Notre-Dame de la Sagesse School as of today.
(3) Stud ent newspaper printing, Notre-Dame de la Sagesse School in 1959. Photographer unknown, P1037, Archives-FDLS Canada/MSA; uncredited commercial autorisation.

The Catholic Cemetery

Larocque Street East
(located behind the church)

The cemetery includes many old tombstones in remembrance of the town’s first residents.

The first parishioner buried near the original church was Marie Lanthier, on August 6, 1861. In 1893, the cemetery was moved to its current location for lack of space; the bodies in the original graveyard were exhumed and transported to their new resting places. Later, the current church was built on the site of the first cemetery.

The ossuary, which resembled a small church, may have been built at the same time. Abandoned for many years and in a dilapidated state, it was demolished in 2013. As you stroll along the cemetery paths, you can admire a Calvary cross and century-old trees. Well-known figures such as poet Gaston Miron as well as lawyer and politician Athanase David (who was Provincial Secretary of Quebec from 1919 to 1936) are buried here.

(1) The ossuary, demolished in 2013 (photo credit: Jean-François Rodrigue, Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, 2004)
(2) The grave of poet Gaston Miron (on the right side of the cemetery, when passing the entrance).
(3) The grave of lawyer and politician Athanase David (on the left side of the cemetery, when passing the entrance).

The Petites Alpes, then and now

Once a bald spot, Les Petites Alpes was very popular. This little mountain was not the highest peak in the area, but in the late 1950s and early 1960s, its vertical drop allowed many skiers to have a good time in this dreamy setting in the heart of the village. The ingenious mechanical lift system developped by Moïse Paquette* was the main attraction.

At that time, one could also climb to the platform at the foot of the cross for a breathtaking view of the lake, the village and the surrounding mountains.

Today, nature has reclaimed its rights and only the top of the cross can be seen when looking up from the cemetery or the bottom of the mountain. And even if the cross still stands at the top, it is no longer possible to climb it because of its deterioration. But who knows what the future holds? After decades of neglect, has the interest in revitalizing the area not led the City to redevelop a slide area for children and a walking path that spans the mountain and passes right by the cross?

* See “Old Post Office Area” section - Tribute to Moïse Paquette

(1) Les Petites Alpes, around 1960
(2-3) The cross on the Petits Alpes, view from the cemetery
and from the foot of the mountain (2021)

Extract of
Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts Heritage Tour

Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts Heritage Tour image circuit

Presented by : Comité du patrimoine de Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts
Get There

Download the BaladoDiscovery app (for Android and iOS) and access the largest network of self-guided tour experiences in Canada.