Explore Notre Dame Montreal: 6 Key Facts

Are you curious about Notre Dame Montreal? This article explores the interesting aspects of Notre Dame Montreal.

Notre Dame Montreal is a world-famous place, located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. There are lots of attractive Gothic revival architects, and the interiors of this church are different and dramatic.

Apart from the buildings and structures, the history of Notre Dame Montreal is something you ought to know.

Notre Dame Basilica has been given a Gothic interior. It is not your regular church. It’s a masterpiece in itself. In Montreal, it is a major attraction for visitors.

The interior of this Basilica has royal colors which have added rich elements to the interior of the church.

Along with wooden carvings, the stained glasses also represent the history of Montreal and not the biblical story.

Notre Dame Montreal: 6 Things You Should Know!

If the abovementioned facts failed to have an impression on you, then the rest of the points definitely wouldn’t. So, let us explore the things that make Notre Dame Montreal an interesting place to visit.

1. History

In 1657, the Roman Catholic Sulpicians arrived in Montreal, earlier known as Ville-Marie (meaning- village of Mary), who was a society of priests of St. Sulpice.

They founded a parish that was dedicated to the Holy Mary, and the construction of the church began. It was built from 1824 to 1829. It is also believed that Catholic Sulpicians arrived in Montreal, intending to spread the teachings of Christianity.

The interiors and constructions took its sweet time in finishing under the supervision of architect François Baillairgé. Notre Dame Montreal church was the first cathedral of the Diocese of Montreal from 1821 to 1822.

Later in 1824, James O’Donnell was appointed for expansion of the church to such extent, that it can accommodate at least 10,000 people. His work never finished due to a lack of funding.

James is the only person who is buried in this Notre Dame Montreal as it is a catholic church. Before his burial, he was converted into Roman Catholic as he was originally an Anglican.

Notre-Dame Church was uplifted to the status of a basilica by Pope John Paul II in the year 1982, and a few years later, in 1989, the church was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

2. Building Construction and Interiors

The building constructions didn’t take much longer in comparison with the interiors of the Notre Dame Montreal. Many architects dedicated significant portions of their lives to make this church a human-made wonder.

Francois Baillairge, the first intelligent mind behind this church, did the interior of the choir from 1785 to 1795 and decorated the façade and vaults till 1818.

As the need for expansion was felt, James O’Donnell was appointed to work on the church; he expanded the accommodations to 10,000 seating capacity, which to date remains the largest Church in North America and Canada.

Although James o’Donnell passed away in 1830, his designed towers, which were named as Preservance lies in the west and another one named Temperance lies in the east; were completed after over ten years of his death.

The Preservance was completed in 1841; this tower has a bell whose weight is over 11,000 kgs. Temperance was completed in 1843, which houses a ten bell carillon. All the bells were brought from England.

Both the towers were designed with such intention, that they should be visible from around the town, the finishing work was done by John Ostell, who worked for the longest duration from 1813 to 1892.

3. Redecoration

At the end of the 19th century, Victor Bourgeau took over the charge of redecoration of the Notre Dame Montreal. This architect drove inspiration from the Sainte-Chapelle, which is in Paris, France, and redecorated the interiors, colors, and gold leaf motifs, etc.

The whole process of replacements and the addition of new features like sculptors and paintings took over ten years. In the 1880s, a new 14 meters high pulpit was sculpted by the artist Louis-Philippe Hébert.

In 1978, because of arson, which is a crime of destroying public places and building, destroyed the Sacré-Cœur Chapel that is ‘Chapel of the Sacred Heart.’

Later it was rebuilt, and only the first two levels were re-created from old drawings and photographs, it also included some modern vaulting, and a bronze altarpiece was added which was specially made by Quebec sculptor named as Charles Daudelin.

In 1929, the Notre Dame Montreal completed its first century, the church was redecorated with large beautiful street lamps, and lights and commemorative stained-glass windows were added.

4. Interesting Facts

The Notre Dame Montreal is not just for roaming around, prayers and funerals, but it has its name associated with some famous names. Also, it is visited by over 11 million people from around the world, which makes it one of the most visited places in Montreal.

In the year 2000, when the Canadian sportsperson Maurice “Rocket” Richard, who was a famous ice hockey player, passed away, his funeral was held in front of thousand people, both inside and outside the church.

In the same year, when the 15th Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Trudeau, expired, Justin Trudeau gave a speech from the high altars of the Church.

Famous singer Celine Dion’s wedding with her husband René Angélil was organized in the Notre Dame Montreal in 1994. Later in 2006, the memorial service of her husband was hosted here.

In the summer of 2014, a variety of artifacts of Napoleon Bonaparte, like clothing, weapons, and furniture, etc. were put on display in the crypt on the Basilica. This was organized by a French collector named Pierre-Jean Chalencon.

After the fire accident that took place in Notre-Dame de Paris, Montreal’s church announced its acceptance of donations for providing aid for the Paris cathedral’s reconstruction.

Notre Dame Basilica is the home to one old pipe organ, which was manufactured by Casavant Frères, a former manufacturing company. It is present in the church from 1891.

5. Information for Visitors

Reaching Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal is very easy; you can walk here from the nearest subway station, or take a cab, whatever suits you best.

After all, it is one of the most famous places to explore in Montreal, so you need at least 30 minutes to take a good look at it, and if you are planning to attend mass, then more than 90 minutes are required.

20-minutes guided tours are organized every day during weekdays for visitor’s convenience.

There are no timing problems, as it remains open for visitors every day, just on weekends, it opens for a shorter duration.

Although this church is open almost throughout the year, it is advisable to visit here during weekdays as you will get an ample amount of time, and also will help in avoiding the rush.

There are parking and eateries available nearby, so you don’t need to worry much. However, the entry costs a negligible amount. You need to pay a few dollars for exploring this historical and religious wonder.

Apart from the points mentioned above, the Basilica also provides pastoral services, hall rentals for weddings, and other events.

6. Events

One of the major events that take place here is the Mass, which happens every day.  The timings vary on weekends, but the Mass features some live organ music and the basilica choir, which makes it an attractive event.

The religious events during festivals like Christmas and Easter etc. are organized at a large scale attracts millions of people from around the world.

The great music and festivals keep this church alive and also acts as an excellent place for musicians from around the globe.

During summers, the grand organ festival is organized by the Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal. Famous organist Pierre Grandmaison leads the festival, and renowned organists from all over the world are invited to perform great music on this occasion.

One of the most famous choir group known as ‘the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal,’ and many world-famous choirs, have had the opportunity to perform in the Notre Dame Montreal church, with some exceptional acoustics and musicians. The church is also open to new members for choir with previous similar experiences.

There are many different music concerts organized at the Notre Dame Basilica. The unique ambiance of the church adds magic to the show, making it a different experience altogether.


These were some important information about the Notre Dame Montreal. The church has a great history and being around two centuries old. There’s lots of information and designs that tell a story of its journey.

To have an in-depth insight into the visiting time, events, and history of Notre Dame Montreal, you can visit their official website here!

Notre Dame is a fantastic place and also the largest city in Quebec, Canada, which attracts millions of tourists every year. Also, Montreal is the fifth largest French-speaking city, and most people are bi-lingual here, so communication is not a problem here.

But before visiting, there are several other things that you need to know about Montreal.

This was an article on ‘Notre Dame Montreal: 6 Things You Should Know’. If you have something to add, please feel free to share your thoughts with us!

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