Abbey of Our Lady of the Prairies -- St. Norbert, MB
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 49° 45.449 W 097° 09.290
14U E 632898 N 5513300
Quick Description: The ruins of the Trappist Monastery Our Lady of the Prairies at St. Norbert just south of Winnipeg have been stabilized and preserved as a Provincial park for all to see and enjoy.
Location: Manitoba, Canada
Date Posted: 1/6/2014 9:09:25 PM
Waymark Code: WMJWAZ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member QuesterMark
Views: 5

Long Description:
The Manitoba Historic marker near the ruins of the Trappist Monastery ruins (also a WM) reads as follows:

Abbey of Our Lady of the Prairies

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, a cheese house, apiary, sawmill, and cannery.

By 1978, the Trappists had moved to a site near Holland, Manitoba, to protect their contemplative life from the effects of urban sprawl.

Fire gutted the vacated church and residential wing five years later."

From the St. Norbert Arts Centre website: (visit link)

"Architectural Remains

The monastic buildings constructed by the Trappists are examples of unique religious architecture in Manitoba. The buildings’ austere and restrained French design was consistent with the Cistercian spiritual values favouring simple architecture and minimal decoration.

The first monastery building, constructed shortly after the monks arrived in 1892, was a three-storey wooden structure on a stone foundation which featured a chapel, porch and bell tower. It was adapted as a house for guests in 1904 when the monks moved to a larger residence built nearby.

In the Trappist tradition of hospitality, the guest house welcomed church officials, the monks’ families and individuals on retreat. In 1912, the guest house was destroyed by fire. The monks replaced it immediately with a new guest house, the building now occupied by the St. Norbert Arts Centre.

The new chapel and monastery were completed between 1903 and 1907. Its Romanesque Revival construction is considered to be of outstanding architectural merit, deomonstrating unparalleled richness and clarity of form. Built of brick and tyndall stone, the chapel featured a lovely rose window, silver-domed bell tower, eight free-standing radiating columns and a cluster of seven smaller chapels. Attached to the chapel with corresponding colour and detail was the monastery, which repeated the rectangular floor plan, mansard roof and dormer windows of the guest house.

An Ending and a New Beginning

The Trappists made many efforts over the years to preserve their peaceful solitude. However, by the 1960s, encroaching urbanization increased traffic in and through St. Norbert. In 1975, the Trappists decided to relocate to a more secluded location near Holland, Manitoba, 145 kilometres (80 miles) southwest of Winnipeg. By 1978, most of the outbuildings had been taken down or moved. Only the chapel and monastic wing, guest house and gate house remained. The property was sold to Genstar Corporation, a Canadian land development company.

Local residents acting through the non-profit organization Heritage St. Norbert Inc., set out to preserve the site’s historical and cultural character. In 1980, the group secured from the City of Winnipeg a historic building designation for the chapel and monastic wing. The group began to research possible uses for the site.Tragedy struck in 1983. Vandals lit a fire which gutted the vacant chapel and monastery. Fortunately, the Guest House, located some distance away, was spared.

The fire did not destroy the beauty and dignity of the site, however. Heritage St. Norbert’s efforts turned to preserving the only existing monastic ruins in North America. In 1987, through the cooperation of Genstar and three levels of government, the property was set aside as a provincial heritage park.

In 1988, as a result of the efforts of Heritage St. Norbert, the Province of Manitoba designated the guest house and the surrounding land as a heritage site. That same year, the guest house and adjacent five acres were purchased from Genstar with a donation from St. Norbert residents William and Shirley Loewen. Thanks to provincial grants, donations and countless volunteer hours, the Guest House was partially renovated.

Birth of St. Norbert Arts Centre

In February of 1991, L’Hôtellerie St. Norbert Guest House Inc. was incorporated to assume ownership of the guest house. Later, the organization began to operate the guest house as the St. Norbert Arts Centre." [end]
Type: Ruin

Fee: no

dawn-dusk daily

Related URL: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:
Original photographs showing additional views of the Ruin/Remnant or even just its current condition are encouraged. Please describe your visit, especially if no additional photos are available. Did you like the Ruin or Remnant? What prompted you to see the Ruin or Remnant?
Search for... Google Map
Google Maps
Bing Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest Preserved Architectural Remnants and Ruins
Nearest Geocaches
Nearest Benchmarks
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point
Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log  
Peter and Gloria visited Abbey of Our Lady of the Prairies --  St. Norbert, MB 6/27/2014 Peter and Gloria visited it
Benchmark Blasterz visited Abbey of Our Lady of the Prairies --  St. Norbert, MB 8/1/2013 Benchmark Blasterz visited it

View all visits/logs