Institutional establishments

Buildings reflecting the changes in education

A look at the history of education in our municipality helps us understand the origin of some of the institutional establishments still found in Saint-Lambert today.

Monette Saint-Jacques talks about the beginnings of education in Saint-Lambert
Excerpts from an interview, December 7, 2016

The following text consists of excerpts retranscribed from an interview with Monette Saint-Jacques. Some sentences have been reworded for easier reading. A gifted storyteller, Monette tells us about the beginnings of education in our community by linking it to buildings still present in Saint-Lambert today.

“Toward the end of the 19th century, illiteracy was virtually universal throughout the province of Québec. This ignorance hindered economic progress for both the bourgeoisie and English Canadian merchants, because the ability to read was essential for doing business. The Catholic clergy also promoted basic education for the faithful to make it easier for them to take part in religious services. From that time on, laws were passed that obliged everyone to go to school.

With the abolishment of the seigneurial system in 1854, decision-making powers fell to city councils. Elected municipal officers were also school commissioners, and in Saint-Lambert, they decided to build the first schoolhouse in Saint-Lambert. To accommodate a mixed population consisting of a French Catholic majority and an English Protestant minority, the school welcomed all Saint-Lambert children and offered elementary school education in both languages. This school was closed in 1876 when most of the population was English Canadian.

In 1891, the school trustees of the municipality of Saint-Lambert decided to build a first school for Catholics only. At that time, it was located in a wooden chapel school on land where the Saint-Lambert convent stands today.

At that time, the Protestant school had already been built across from what is now Mercille Park (commonly referred to as Soldier’s Park). It was made of brick.”

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The building of a first convent

“In 1898, the Sisters of the Saint-Nom-de-Jésus-Marie (the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary) order came to teach in Saint-Lambert at the request of Curé Rabeau. In 1901, the Sisters were offered a tract of land on which to build a convent and provide education to all Francophone Catholic children in Saint-Lambert. It was only in 1908 that construction finally began on the convent, which opened its doors in 1910.

Boys remained in the little wooden schoolhouse until 1914, when a flood reached as high as the second floor. The municipality then decided to build École Saint-Michel for boys.

In 1924, when over 150 village children were attending the convent school, the municipality began building École des Saint-Anges right next door. Co-ed, public, bilingual elementary education was given in École des Saint-Anges, while the convent of the Sisters of the Saint-Nom-de-Jésus- went private.

The convent of Saint-Lambert, École des Saint-Anges and École Saint-Michel were all the accomplishments of the Saint-Lambert architect and mayor Alphonse Venne.”

You can listen to the complete interview (in French) on our YouTube channel.


  • Saint-Jacques, Monette, 2011. L’histoire d’un couvent au village Saint-Lambert 1910-2010, Published by Collège Durocher Saint-Lambert, Saint-Lambert.