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Maison McGreevy

Posted on 15 Apr, 2014 in History | 11 comments

McGreevy 2

Peeking over the western walls of Old Quebec is McGreevy House, a stately, Italian-renaissance masterpiece that is as old as the Canadian confederation itself. Fittingly, the story of its construction is closely linked to the construction of the Parliament buildings in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa.

Thomas McGreevy was born in 1823 to Irish parents. He spent the better part of the 1840s apprenticed to a Quebec City contractor learning the construction business from the ground up. By the 1850s, McGreevy was signing large contracts of his own for buildings in Quebec’s capital city. The presbytery for St. Patrick’s Church and the customs house by the river were built by McGreevy and still grace the city today.

When a call for bids went out in 1859 for the construction of a state house in far-away Ottawa, McGreevy got that contract as well, a grand coup for the son of a blacksmith. He worked closely with English architect Thomas Fuller to build Ottawa’s first parliament buildings. Although cost overruns and scandal tainted their project, they created together the neo-gothic complex of Nepean sandstone that would host the first meetings of the Canadian legislature.

As lawmakers moved into their new buildings in 1867, McGreevy, now a member of parliament himself, turned his attentions back to Quebec City and a home for himself. He chose his former partner on the Ottawa project as architect. Thomas Fuller designed for McGreevy a four-story urban palace with 15 marble fireplaces and a ballroom. The front facade shows off the same Nepean sandstone used back in Ottawa. Grand arched windows and an elaborate cornice greet passersby.

Walk by McGreevy house today at 69, rue d’Auteuil the next time you are in Old Quebec. It is magnificent.

11 Comments

  1. thanks for your message Neal , I think there was good for me and my feature . have a nice day.

    • I’m glad you liked it, Jocelyn. I’ll see you on the streets of VQ soon!

  2. Merci, toujours agréable a lire!

  3. Very interesting. Next time, I ride to Old Quebec, I will go to see this particular house. Thank you to pass us on your knowledge!

  4. I’ve walked by this house quite many times, and I had no idea of the McGreevy history behind it! There’s so much to learn!

  5. Your texts are good, informative, funny, well documented…but I’m especially impressed by your pictures. It is very easy to get a “bad picture” of maison McGreevy – from the sidewalk- but once again your paid attention to provide us with a good quality photograph, choosing an excellent viewing angle (you climbed the Wall I guess) with backgroung and foreground, with good light… Bravo en général pour la composition photo.

  6. Merci Neil pour cette belle description….j avais cependant entendu patler de scandales frauduleux concernant cet entrepreneur….ce qui est confirme aux archives canadiennes. Eminence grise politique a la fois a Ottawa comme a Quebec, il a profite de ses contacts pour etablir un reseau qui serait digne de nos jours de passer a une certaine commission….comme quoi l histoire se repete parfois….desolee de mettre un bemol negatif a ta description….

    Colette

    • Tu as tout à fait raison, Colette. Les scandales que j’ai mentionnés ressemblent beaucoup aux accusations dont nous entendons parler à la commission Charbonneau. En plus, dans les années 1890, Thomas McGreevy a passé quelques mois en prison, dans la foulée d’un scandale de chemin de fer.

      À mon avis, tout ça ne diminue en rien la beauté de cette maison magnifique!

  7. Very interesting. Thank you. One exclusive aspect about this house is it remarkable widow’s walk.

  8. Another information tu put in my “contingency provisions”, dixit M. Lebel…… Thank you very much,

    I’ll certainly continue to follow your site, over time!

    Denis Laberge

  9. Thank you Neil I realy enjoy reading your blog Take care

    Mario

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