Carmelites sell oldest monastery in Canada

Seeking the peace and quiet needed for their monastic life, the Discalced Carmelites sold their first foundation house in Canada. The 1875 convent, located in Montreal’s trendy and densely populated Plateau Mont-Royal district, no longer suited their monastic ritual, said Carmelite spokesperson Francois Morin.

“There are factories nearby that rent their space to rock bands for practice,” Morin explained. “They wish to relocate in a more rural setting.”

The public-relations specialist declined to give the purchase price, but the municipality evaluated the 176,104-square-foot site at $2.2 million.

The nuns sold their property to a housing company, Groupe Prevel, and have planned to relocate to Lanoraie, about one hour away from Montreal, in the Diocese of Joliette. Morin said the nuns accepted Prevel’s offer because of the company’s reputation for preserving the historic patrimony and architecture of the sites it buys.

Another factor influencing the nuns’ decision to sell the monastery was the state of the 25-foot high stone wall that surrounds the site, which extends one city block. The nuns had already invested a lot of money into it over the years, but the cost of repairing the 130-year-old wall, now estimated at more than the value of the property – between $3 and $4 million – was too exorbitant, said Morin.

Eighteen sisters currently live at the monastery, located on Carmel Avenue. No date has been set for the nuns’ departure and construction of the new monastery is yet to begin.

However, the Carmelites plan to continue supplying Montreal-area parishes with Communion wafers, which they make from biological wheat that is grown on farms in the Lanoraie region.

The sale is another in a series of religious property sales in the Montreal region in recent years. Several orders have sold historic properties to either preserve their monastic way of life or to reflect their shrinking membership.

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