A New Elevator at Mother House

By Sophie Rolland
Photos: Samantha Étane, Maria Gerbini


At the beginning of the autumn, geese flew south… and construction workers arrived at the Mother House! They are building a second more modern and spacious elevator: a wonderful gift for the building which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in January 2013.

The Mother House is a bustling place; it welcomes countless visitors, it is a CND Sisters’ residence as well as the workplace of several office and services employees. The large new elevator, to measure 10’x10’, will make circulating around the house easier for everyone. The General Administration’s decision to build it received very positive reactions.

Once the decision was made, a significant amount of planning had to be undertaken before beginning the actual work. An important question needed to be answered: Where will this large structure that will go through the floors and ceilings of the 100-year-old, five-story building be installed? After a careful study of the plans of the building, it was agreed to build it near the reception area, next to the Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys Oratory. As it would be located on the opposite end of the already existing elevator, it would permit easy access to the other side of the house.


Cement replaced by several floors of empty space.

The work began on September 17, 2012 with the demolition phase of the project. In order to be able to pierce through the five floors of the building to install the elevator shaft, a number of offices and bedrooms had to be sacrificed. The nearby rooms were closed off to minimize the spreading of dust. Furniture and statuary were either removed or covered in sheets of plastic. A few people whose offices are in the proximity of the construction closed their doors to keep out the inevitable noise made during demolition. However, despite these few inconveniences, life at the Mother House went on uninterrupted.

Maintenance personnel and the workers kept the premises very clean. As soon as piles of debris were accumulated they would be cleared away and the area swept thoroughly. The central door to the cafeteria was inaccessible for a time in order to keep the room clean and comfortable. Without any difficulty, the Kitchen Services staff adapted immediately to the situation.

The masonry work followed; the wall of the elevator shaft went up very quickly. When it reached the reception level (first floor), a short medals ceremony brought together all those who were in the house.


Medals Ceremony

Following an old tradition1, the medals of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, the Blessed Virgin and Saint Joseph were placed in a jar with a prayer and a message signed by the General Administration, the Sisters of Mother House and those responsible for the work. The members of the Congregation Leadership Team, who were present – as were the architect and the site supervisor – embedded the jar in one of the cement blocks that made up the wall. The Mother House Sisters and employees took the opportunity to witness how far the work had progressed.


The members of the General Administration and Sister Fernande Cantin during the Medals Ceremony.

What next?

We are now waiting to receive the elevator parts. An engineer will oversee its assembly and its start up. We are expecting the parts to be delivered in the first months of the new year. Just in time to wish the building at 2330 Sherbrooke Street West a very happy birthday!


  1. Meant to protect buildings under construction. See http://www.cnd-m.org/en/news/article.php?subaction=showfull&id=1335783194. [return to text]

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