Morrin Centre in Old Québec City

Morrin Centre in Quebec City, Canada

Last Updated on January 17, 2021 by Pamela

Historic & Cultural Site

Morrin Centre

The Morrin Centre, located between rue Sainte-Anne and rue Dauphine in Old Québec (upper town), is one of those buildings we walk past without a second thought. The building is boxy and grey and old. A church sits across the small courtyard, and another (which is now Maison de la littérature) sits across the street.

The prettiness of the building is almost a distraction as it conjures equally pretty thoughts. The history of this building, however, has its share of rough edges, blood, sweat and tears

From 18th-Century Military Barracks to a Gaol to a College

Originally a military barracks in 1712, the Royal Redoubt (as it was then known) later held prisoners of war, including that of Esther Wheelwright who later became mother superior of the Ursulines.

In 1813 the Royal Redoubt become the common city gaol (where some prisoners were publicly hung from the balcony above the main door) which held debtors, murders, and journalists who spoke against the government.

In 1867, the prisoners were moved to a new jail on the Plains of Abraham, and in 1868 the building was converted and used by Morrin College (the first English-language college in Québec City), until 1902 when the college had to close its doors due to lack of students and funds.

Read more about its history: Iron Bars and Bookshelves: A History of the Morrin Centre by Louisa Blair, Patrick Donovan and Donald Fyson

A Literary & Historical Society and English Library

Today, the Morrin Centre in Québec City is home to the Literary and Historical Society of Québec, which has been housed at the Morrin Centre since 1868 (it was in the north wing when the college was running).

Dedicated to the history of Québec City, the Morrin Centre offers tours of the jail cells (yes, they kept some of them intact!), the chemistry and physics labs from when the college was in the building and the Victorian library where the Literary and Historical Society of Québec has collected rare books and documents about Québec (and also has an impressive collection of English-language fiction and non-fiction books).

ADDRESS:

44, chaussée des Écossais • Old Quebec City

418-694-9147

GETTING THERE:

The Morrin Centre is a short walk from Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral, just walk up rue des Jardins, turn right onto rue Sainte-Anne. Take the first left and the Morrin Centre will be on the right.

You can also take bus 11 or 25 to stop #1134 Hôtel de Ville.

OPEN:

Tue 12pm–8pm, Wed–Fri & Sun 12pm–4pm, Sat 10am–4pm

MUSEUM TOURS:

$12 CAD, 40–50 mins. Learn more about their museum tours on their website.

WIFI:

FREE wifi is available in the library. Ask an employee for the password.


Enjoying the Victorian library at the Morrin Centre in Old Quebec City
A beautiful historic library in Old Quebec City!

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