In the 1820s, the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company amalgamated. The result was that many of the Métis who had worked for these companies were laid off. Many of them moved to the Saint-Norbert area where they took up farming. There was very little wood for building homes so they dug holes in the ground, covered it with what wood and sod they could find and that was their home. In the winter, all you could see of these homes was the chimney. So, the area became known as Chimney Ridge. Today, bordering on Pembina Highway next to the fire station there is a housing development appropriately named Chimney Ridge.
The Bohemier House had been built in 1890 and lived in continuously by members of the Bohemier family. In 1973, a second heritage home in St. Norbert was scheduled to be demolished to make way for an apartment block. The house was examined by the Historic Resources Branch, who recommended that every effort be made to acquire the house and restore it. The Fort Garry Historical Society was given the house by Imperial Developments Limited and arrangements were made with the Fort Garry Community Council to move the house to a temporary site next to the Fire House on Dalhousie Drive. The house was moved to the Moody Property in late 1976 and was later moved to the St. Norbert Provincial Heritage Park.
In 1854, Father Louis LaFleche was assigned to the Mission de la riviere Salle and began to build a church. In 1857, the small mission was elevated to the status of parish and was named “St. Norbert” by Bishop Alexandre-Antonin Tache in honour of the first bishop of St. Boniface Bishop Norbert Provencher.
The first church was built on the current site in 1857 and was made of logs. The newer building that replaced it in 1883 burned down in 1929. The current church was completed in 1937. The beautiful building has twin towers, and houses the body of Father Joseph-Noël Ritchot, St. Norbert’s parish priest from 1862-1905. Father Ritchot was a supporter of the Métis people, and of Louis Riel. Richot was a member of a delegation that travelled to Ottawa to meet with representatives of the Canadian government regarding the 1870 transfer of land in the Red River Settlement from the Hudson’s Bay Company to the Dominion of Canada.
At the site of the former orphanage (1905-1948) managed by the Misericordia Sisters, the Saint-Norbert Heritage Group gathered a former butcher shop, a log house, a Red River cart and the La Barrière monument. This monument, which recalls the events of 1869-1870, replaced a simple cross of yesteryear bearing Father Ritchot’s inscription “Le doigt de Dieu est ici” (The finger of God is here). Here, Riel’s followers had erected a wooden barricade which prevented access to the colony by the governor appointed by Canada.
Place St. Norbert – Tourisme Riel
Place St. Norbert: Link to the Past – Article
Preserving the Past – Article
Restoring Place St. Norbert – Article
Place St. Norbert Progress I & II
Place St. Norbert Construction – Article
In 1988, as a result of the efforts of Heritage Saint-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.
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. Between January and July of 1995, the St. Norbert Arts Centre undertook an ambitious and extensive renovation of the Guest House.
The first building on this site, erected sometime in the 1870s, was the home of Joseph Lemay. On his death in 1892, it was donated to the local church and in 1903, Father Noël-Joseph Ritchot arranged the donation of the building and surrounding land to les Soeurs de Misericorde, who operated it as an orphanage from 1904 to 1948. In 1911, they undertook a major expansion, constructing the present three-story brick building.
When Asile Ritchot closed in 1948, the building was used as a seminary by the Oblate Order. In 1970, the X-Kalay Foundation (later renamed the Behavioural Health Foundation) began using it for the treatment of people with drug or alcohol addictions.
Ritchot and his parishioners built the chapel (La Chapelle de Notre-Dame-du-Bons-Secours) in 1875, to commemorate the success of the Métis resistance of 1869-70. That dispute, eventually settled through negotiation, resulted in the inclusion of Métis land, language, and school rights in The Manitoba Act of 1870, the basis of the Red River Settlement’s entry into Confederation.
The open-air chapel, a type of amenity now rarely found in Manitoba, is an expression of Ritchot’s gratitude to the Blessed Virgin Mary for her protection during those troubled times. The Chapelle de Notre-Dame-du-Bons-Secours has remained a historical and spiritual landmark since its construction a few metres east of its current location. In 1989, the chapel was declared a Manitoba provincial heritage site. Read more…
The building at 932 avenue de l’Eglise, built in 1919, once housed St. Norbert’s first bank, la Banque d’Hochelaga. You can still see the name very faintly on the wall. The building later became a hardware store and then a private residence.
Father Ritchot had long hoped to establish a monastery on a secluded piece of parish land along the La Salle River. In 1891, Ritchot’s hopes were realized. He and Archbishop Taché of St. Boniface persuaded the Abbot of Bellefontaine, France, to establish a home for Trappist monks in St. Norbert.
Through hard work and devotion, the monks of Nôtre-Dame des Prairies built the monastery into a prosperous agricultural operation complete with a sawmill, forge, apiary, cheese house, bakery and greenhouses. Themselves vegetarians, the monks sold meat, dairy products, honey and their world-famous cheese to the outside community. The monks, ranging in number from thirty to forty-five, perfected their skills as gardeners, carpenters, ironworkers and decorative artists.
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.
Pierre Delorme (1831 – 1912) was born at St. Boniface, Manitoba. His father was Québecois and his mother, Métis. Pierre married Adélaïde Millet dit Beauchemin and raised a family of 13 children. In the mid-1850s, he settled on River Lot 21 at Pointe Coupée (St. Adolphe) south of St. Norbert, where he built the family home.
The 1 1/2 storey structure was built using vertical uprights at each of the four corners as well as at intervals along the walls. A longitudinal groove was cut into these posts and tongued horizontal logs were inserted between them. Spaces between logs, inside and outside, were chinked with a mixture of straw and mud. In Manitoba, this construction procedure was known as Red River frame.
Delorme combined freighting, merchandising and farming with the more traditional practices of the buffalo hunt. In later years, his home was used as a way station for stage coaches on the Pembina Trail, which served travelers between Fort Garry and St. Paul, Minnesota.
Pierre Delorme’s education, relative wealth and family connections made him a natural leader among the Métis of St. Norbert. During the Red River Resistance of 1869-70, he was a close ally of Louis Riel.
In September 1870, Delorme was appointed Justice of the Peace for St. Norbert and at the first provincial elections in December, he was elected member for St. Norbert South. He was also the first Member of Parliament for the federal riding of Provencher.
Pierre Delorme’s house was donated to the Province by Mr. and Mrs. P. Vernaus in 1982.