When Quebec City’s rue des Jardins was named in the 18th century, the street was surrounded by gardens of the religious communities once based there. As the city developed, stone and asphalt paved over the greenspace for which “Garden Street” was named—but a new project will help restore natural beauty in the heart of Old Quebec.
Cathedral Gardens, which is being developed by the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity with the help of secular partners, will transform the Anglican cathedral’s large close—or courtyard—into a place of health and peace for generations to come.
“Returning the cathedral’s grounds to their original vocation as a garden in the heart of the city has been a dream of many people for many years,” said Bishop Bruce Myers of the Anglican Diocese of Quebec. “There has never been a better or more urgent time—in the life of our city and of our planet—to transform what has become an unsightly parking lot for cars and trucks into a beautiful greenspace for God’s creatures, including people.”
The vision for this project is to create an informal space that is widely known as welcoming to all, develop an oasis of natural beauty throughout the year, and restore visitors’ relationship with nature. The gardens will also be home to works of outdoor art. Bridge building between communities and fostering people’s physical and spiritual health are also priorities.
Themed around the concept of discovery, the gardens will allow visitors to gradually discover the site through different paths and routes. Visitors will experience moments of meditation and calm, discovery of others thanks to furniture promoting discussion, and the (re)discovery of the beauty of nature through a wide variety of species inspired in particular by those once grown there by the Récollets Friars, a Roman Catholic order who occupied the same space in the 1700s.
Those involved in the project also hope that it will play a reconciling role between the church, Indigenous peoples, and people from a settler background.
“For thousands of years, the Huron-Wendat, Abenaki, Haudenosaunee, and Wəlastəkwewiyik peoples lived in harmony with nature where we, the settler church, now live, work, worship and play,” said the Very Rev. Christian Schreiner, dean and rector of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.
While some European settlers cooperated and peacefully coexisted with Indigenous peoples—listening and learning—others assumed positions of power, symbolized in part by the 19th-century construction of the cathedral as a “seat” of colonial authority. The dean hopes Cathedral Gardens will help shift that mentality back—to “try, together, to listen again to the Spirit of the place, which is clearly a spirit of cooperation, encounter, exchange and community.”
In that spirit of community, the gardens will be free, open to the public, and welcoming to people of all origins and beliefs.
“Cathedrals are typically situated at the heart of a city, and their grounds are often meeting places for all sorts of people,” Bishop Myers added. “Located at the centre of the city’s historic district, Cathedral Gardens will be just such a crossroads for Quebec City’s citizens and visitors alike. This space is a precious gift that’s been entrusted to our church, and we want it to achieve its full potential, and to share it with others.”
Currently in the planning phase, Cathedral Gardens is now accepting donations to support construction and landscaping. Donations can be made online through cathedralgardens.ca by clicking the “Donate” button. The project’s donation system is powered by CanadaHelps, making it easy for donors to give securely and to receive tax receipts.
For more information, including architectural renderings and a list of proposed plants, visit Cathedral Garden’s bilingual website at cathedralgardens.ca (English) or jardinsdelacathedrale.ca (French).