St. Augustin Staircase

Let us begin this journey in a private wing of the monastery. This wing is where the nuns live. Here we find the refectory (dining room), the intercommunity room (meeting room), the infirmary and the sisters’ bedrooms. It is a quiet, peaceful and sober place, suitable for meditation even in the corridors. The public is not normally admitted, but nowadays the employees move around quite freely. You can also visit the St. Augustin staircase, an impressive wooden staircase built in 1689. All the pupils have since used these stairs according to necessity. The surrounding area also recalls the era of New France.


* The video you will see is a reduced version of the 3D model. The image quality is compressed to suit most devices.

Map - First floor

The St. Augustin Staircase highlighted on a floor plan map.


0:00 - 0:23
We are in the nuns’ wing. The community room is on our left, but for now I want you to discover something else.
0:23 - 0:38
We’ll stop for a few seconds and observe, on our right, the wooden plaques bearing “maxims”. We find these only in the private part of the Monastery. These phrases, taken from the Bible or from the writings of our foundresses, inspire us on a daily basis.
0:38 - 0:54
We go back to the corridor and keep going.
0:54 - 1:07
We stop at the brown door. This door is usually shut since it delimits the private and public areas of the monastery. We are about to leave the private wing.
1:07 - 1:12
We go forward to cross the hall of the St. Augustin staircase.
1:12 - 1:20
Make a quarter-turn to the right to observe the St. Augustin staircase, which leads to classrooms and the attic.
1:20 - 1:41
Let's turn to the left to observe the alcove and the statue of St. Joseph located at the top. This St. Joseph is called “St. Joseph of the Wheat” because he holds a sheaf of wheat, but also because he watches over the St. Augustin staircase, which was used to carry foodstuffs to the attic.
1:41 - 1:44
Let's make a half-turn to the right.
1:44 - 2:11
Let’s observe the plaque on the wall. This plaque is placed here in memory of Mother Esther Wheelwright, superior of the monastery following the conquest of Quebec by the British. Her Irish roots and excellent managerial qualities enabled the Ursulines to maintain good political contacts. The boarding school accommodated both French and English-speaking pupils.
2:11 - 2:16
Make a quarter-turn to the left towards what was called the “Savages Door”.
2:16 - 2:33
At the time of the colony, this door led to the forest. The nuns feared attacks from the Iroquois. That is why the door is lined with planks placed in opposite directions and reinforced with a huge solid lock.
2:33 - 2:53
We now make a complete turn to look at another door, that of 1642. This door today leads to the inner yard, but it is the location of the very first entrance of the monastery.
2:53 - 3:26
Let's go back to the right. Before taking the St. Augustin staircase, let us observe this place so filled with history. The staircase dates back to 1689. It is built without nails or any other modern hardware. It is an assemblage of pieces of wood called tenons and mortises. This staircase leads to the attic. In the past, a hook was placed on the ceiling at the top of the stairs, making it possible to hoist things up to the attic.
3:26 - 3:35
Let us take the staircase, the steps of which show the wear and tear created by the thousands of feet which have trampled on them for nearly four centuries.
3:35 - 3:49
We go to the classrooms, a place to visit.