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Religious Heritage

Saints-Anges Gardiens Church

Saints-Anges Gardiens Church1400, boulevard Saint-Joseph
Phone: 514 637-8345

Built by Pierre Gaudin said Chatillon, the first wooden chapel (a reduced replica of it stands in front of today’s church) was erected within the walls of Fort-Rémy, in what we now call LaSalle. The original presbytery was built in 1680 and replaced five years later with another more comfortable building.

The second church, built with cobblestones, was inaugurated in July 1703.

The population of Lachine having migrated towards the Lachine Locks after the construction and the first widening of the Canal, the Fabrique council opted to relocate the church on land offered by a rich trader named Louis Boyer. In 1863, foundations were laid while a sacristy was erected to celebrate mass during the week.

Consecration of the church took place on December 2, 1865, but the interior was only completed three years later. This third church burnt to ashes in a violent fire on October 7, 1915. Only the presbytery, the chapel and the Eucharistic species survived the flames.

On April 4, 1919, construction began on the fourth (and last) church. It was inaugurated on December 21, 1920.

Dalbé Viau (Mayor of Lachine from 1925 to 1933) and Alphonse Venne, designers of the plans for St. Joseph’s Oratory, were assigned the architectural work. They designed the building in the neo-roman style and the interior layout in the traditional shape of a Latin cross.

On April 7, 1921, the church’s new Casavant organ was blessed. The ceremony was followed by a concert starring Auguste Descarries, son of former Lachine Mayor Joseph A. Descarries. This organ is an invaluable gem of our cultural heritage. Its significance in history and in the cultural and musical life of Lachine is undeniable.

On December 11, 1923, five bells were blessed and installed into the left tower of the church. Made in France, their names are as follows: Saints-Anges, Sacré-Cœur, Marie, Joseph and Marie-Anne.

On September 7, 1924, the bells of the burnt church were melted out and used as part of the Sacré-Cœur monument which stands on Promenade Père-Marquette, near 15th Avenue.

The interior decoration of the church was given over to famous painter Ozias Leduc (1864-1955) who is considered to be one of the most influential figures of 20th century Canadian art. Leduc alone designed all the frescoes and sculptures. He did the work himself with help from an associate by the name of Fortunat Rho and a few apprentices, including Paul-Émile Borduas (1905-1960) and two young people from Lachine.

In 1930, Ozias Leduc painted 34 murals on the walls of the nave, the transept, the choir and the organ loft. Unfortunately, renovations completed in 1959 altered Leduc’s original work.

Attributed to sculptor Louis Jobin, the monumental statue of Archangel St. Michel gracing the facade of the church is made of wood and covered in copper.

In 2001, the complete restoration of the organ began. It was entrusted to Casavant Frères themselves and planned out in three separate phases already completed. This project presented the perfect opportunity to add 85 horizontal trumpets to our monumental instrument already equipped with 4 keyboards, a pedalboard, 65 stops and 4 444 pipes. This gem became a veritable concert organ.

Offered for free, the Les Saints-Anges en musique concert series is a presentation of les Concerts Lachine. The Wednesday lunchtime concerts or Concerts midi (starting on July 7th this year) give you a taste of the magnificent sounds of this outstanding instrument and the remarkable acoustics of our beautiful church.