In 1892, Monsignor Ritchot, parish priest of St Norbert and Archbishop Taché of St Boniface invited five Cistercians of the Trappist order from the Abbey of Bellefontaine, France, to establish a monastery here.

Ruins of St Norbert Monastery

The Trappists were an independent branch of the Cistercian Order which began in Normandy after 1664.

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They strictly followed the basic tenets of St. Benedict: charity, obedience and humility. Religious persecution in France during the late nineteenth century forced many Trappists to leave Europe.

In a place of pasture (psalm 22)In a place of pasture

Therefore the Trappists who came here had been in Quebec for some years already. Once they arrived in St Norbert the new community was named Our Lady Of The Prairies or Notre Dame des Prairies, in French. The first building was where the current Arts Center is located. In 1903-04 a Romanesque Revival church was built and the connecting monastic wing in 1905. After the first monastery building burned down, a guesthouse was erected in 1912 on its foundations.

Only part of what it once wasOnly part of what it once was

This self-sufficient monastery included milking barns, stables, a cheese house, apiary, sawmill and cannery. Between 30 and 45 monks inhabited the monastery at any given time.

Quiet steps down to the Red RiverQuiet steps down to the Red River

The Trappists were (and still are) a silence observing order. They value their silence and quietness and use it for contemplation and prayer. The neighbouring City of Winnipeg, however was growing faster and faster during the 1960s and 1970s. Winnipeg grew so much that by 1978, the Trappists had moved to a site near Holland, Manitoba, to protect their contemplative life from the effects of urban uproar.

The inside of the churchThe inside of the church

The land and the buildings were sold to a promoter and the monks moved out. The buildings then fell into neglect and the land was simply kept unused. Probably waiting for bigger profits than were available at the time.

You can still here the flames roar, with a little imaginationYou can still here the flames roar, with a little imagination

Five years later, the church was gutted by fire, lit by young vandals. By then, many inhabitants of St Norbert rallied to get the grounds and the ruins back to life by buying it back. Subsequently the land as well as the ruins were classified Historic Site and Buildings. No further development could then take place here.

The whole terrain is now a Provincial Heritage Park and anew breathes the quietness the Trappist Monks so desperately needed for contemplation.

A chainlink fence keeps people at a distanceA chainlink fence keeps people and photographers at a distance

What is left of the ruins has been stabilised but they are still surrounded by a chain link fence. It is impossible to come close to the ruins and feel the atmosphere from the stone itself. I had to take pictures from a distance.

Quietness now surrounds the ruinsQuietness now surrounds the ruins

The former guest house now houses the St Norbert Cultural Arts Centre, subject of a future post.

In the mean time, a visit to the ruins can make your day a lot calmer. Get away for a few minutes from that hectic city life, then come back to work with a quiet mind. The place still holds that original power, try it.

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Henk
8 days 13 hours

Thanks :) !

sursohog
8 days 16 hours

---Very nice Blog Henk - some nice shots there...-:)

Henk
13 days 9 hours

Presets can speed up your workflow a lot, provided you have plenty of the same type of pictures. People doing weddings will a ...

Henk
13 days 9 hours

Hi, I hadn't noticed that the typing colour was that dark... changed it to pure white, that should do it ... Henk

'Dan..
13 days 11 hours

I certainly agree the use of presets will discourage people learning their own methods but they can offer a shortcut to fulfi ...

Henk
1 month 3 days

Well, I was told so by a "pro" that later recanted... :-) I removed the name, so at least it is now correct.

josie brendle
1 month 4 days

nice blog but sorry the horses are not Clydesdales. Those are a little bigger. :)

Henk
1 month 5 days

Test comment here

Henk Von Pickartz
1 month 5 days

This is a comment. I will see if this works or if this will be taken over by spammers. If so, then I will take it down again.