OUR LADY OF THE PRAIRIES ABBEY
HOLLAND, MANITOBA 1978 JACQUES COLLIN ARCHITECT(E)
A remarkable and largely unknown building by a very gifted architect
Designed by University of Manitoba professor, Jacques Collin (1927-2000), if the Abbey has a reputation, it is that it somehow descends from le Corbusier’s La Tourette. Arguably, however, it is as much J-N L Durand as it is Corb (and more Villa Stein than La Tourette), and draws on many sources, sources as diverse as mediaeval monasteries and local agricultural building types: barns, grain elevators, and sheds. it employs ordinary, local construction materials. The architecture expresses techniques for symbolic as much as practical purposes to root the building in its French Canadian prairie context - a very thorough and subtle work.
Had it been built an hour outside Montréal or Vancouver, it may well have been part of the post-war Canadian “architectural canon”.
Garth Norbraten BES MArch OAA MRAIC
A graduate of The University of Manitoba, a practising architect in Toronto, and a Sessional Lecturer at in the Department of Architectural Science at Ryerson University, teaching Design Studios and lecture courses.
To illustrate the themes of an option studio I was preparing, I was looking for a project that wasn’t in central Canada and wasn't well known. I vaguely remembered Jacques showing us slides of this building in the only class I had with him, a half class seminar. In the fall of 2013, 30 years after that course with Jacques, Herb Enns and I made a trip to the Abbey…
Versions of this lecture have been presented to students at Ryerson and at the 2017 RAIC Conference in Ottawa.