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Photographer's Note

In 1642, the year Ville-Marie (today's Montréal) was founded by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Jean-Jacques Olier established the Society of Saint-Sulpice, a society of priests who came to Montréal in 1657 and joined the Jesuits who had already established a mission there. In 1663 the seigneury of l'île de Montréal was donated to the Sulpicians and they governed until 1840. A plan of 1672 drawn up by Dollier de Casson, Father Superior of the Sulpicians, formed the basis for future urban development: he established a linear layout of streets forming blocks of unequal dimensions, roughly rectangular, with a market place and parish church acting as focal points.

The parish was officially inaugurated and dedicated to the Saint-Nom-de-Marie in 1678. The construction of the first church of Notre-Dame began in 1672, on the site chosen by Dollier de Casson, aligned with the Rue Notre-Dame. It was built according to the Jesuit plan with a transept and a semicircular choir. It was enlarged for the first time in 1708 and then underwent a major transformation in 1722 when it was decided to lengthen it from the façade adding a large structure flanked with two towers after plans by Gaspard Chaussegros de Léry, the King's engineer. However, towards 1734 it was again too small for the growing population and was enlarged once more, this time creating side aisles linking the transept to the towers on the façade. The church continued to be used until the present basilica was completed in 1830. The north tower (the only one which was built) was preserved until 1843, after the first tower of the new church had been finished.

It is hard to imagine the true dimensions of the church facing the place d'Armes, now surrounded by tall buildings. It was, however, the largest church in North America when it was built bar none. The towers are 66m high and the nave is 77m long, 41m wide and more than 24m high from floor to ceiling.

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Additional Photos by Vlad Ghiea (vlad_ghiea) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 54 W: 56 N: 199] (1086)
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