Le Salon 1861: Repurposing a heritage building

le salon 1861St. Joseph’s Church in Little Burgundy is one of the oldest religious buildings in Montreal. Built by the Sulpicians, it was finished in 1861 and became a key pillar of a local, vibrant community. But a century and a half later, with religious participation declining in all of Quebec, St. Joseph’s had become chronically underutilized.
Natalie Voland, of the BCorp certified real estate company Quo Vadis, saw an opportunity. Voland talked to corporate, non-profit, university and municipal representatives in and around the neighbourhood to develop a shared vision for how St. Joseph’s could be turned into a multipurpose community hub, retaining the building’s historic function of bringing people together. A deal was inked in 2015 and Voland, along with private investors, including the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, became the new owners of the beautiful, neo-Gothic building. This partnership is supported by an advisory council composed of all stakeholder groups involved in defining the project.
Known as Le Salon 1861, the revitalized space supports Montreal’s burgeoning ecosystem of social innovators, entrepreneurs and economic developers. It provides a co-working space and serves as a venue for workshops, events and networking. In collaboration with McGill University, it offers applied learning opportunities for students and researchers, and has active partnerships with several local organizations, including a fitness centre and the Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre, which provides educational programming for youth and adults.
The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation entered into this partnership seeing the project as an innovative approach to repurposing this vital piece of Montreal history for the public good.