Just to the east of Marché Bonsecours, Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel is called the Sailors’ Church because of the special attachment that fishermen and other mariners have to it. Their devotion is manifest in the several ship models hanging from the ceiling inside. There’s also an excellent view of the harbor from the church’s tower.
The first building, which no longer stands, was the project of an energetic teacher named Marguerite Bourgeoys (1620–1700) and built in 1675. Bourgeoys had come from France to undertake the education of the children of the colonists and, later, the native peoples. She and other teachers founded the Congregation of Notre-Dame, Canada’s first nuns’ order. The pioneering Bourgeoys was canonized in 1982 as the Canadian church’s first female saint, and in 2005, for the chapel’s 350th birthday, her remains were brought to the church and interred in the left-side altar.
A restored 18th-century crypt under the chapel houses the museum. Part of it is devoted to relating Bourgeoys’s life and work, while another section displays artifacts from an archaeological site here, including ruins and materials from the colony’s earliest days. An Amerindian campsite on display dates back more than 2,400 years.
- Leslie Brokaw, Erin Trahan, Matthew Barber