Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Chapel (Our lady of Good Help Chapel) is the oldest church in Old Montreal. The chapel looks out to the Saint Laurence river and Montreal’s old Port. Because of this location, the church is often called the Sailor’s Church. In older days, many sailors who came to Montreal would come to the church to offer thanks to the Virgin for safe passage. As a token of their appreciation, these sailors would bring wooden ships to the church. You will find many wooden ship models hanging inside the church.
French Influence on the Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Chapel
French influence can be seen all over the Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Chapel. Built in 1771, the chapel sits on top of an older church that was first constructed in the 1950’s, when Montreal was under French rule as a member of Nouveau France. The older church was burnt in a fire during the Seven Years War, when New France became under the control of the British Empire.
At the top of the church sits a museum dedicated to Marguerite Bourgeoys, the woman who founded the church and a nuns’ order called the Congregation of Notre-Dame. She was the first teacher of the young French settlement that eventually became Montreal. She was eventually made into a saint in 1982.
The Sailor’s Church
The song Suzanne, by Leonard Cohen, which was apparently written in Montreal refers to the Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours Chapel. The Chapel is considered to be one of the oldest houses of worship in North America.