More than a decade ago, when I landed in Montréal, my attention was captured by this building but never actually researched its history. Fast forward a decade: a conference happened to take place at Université du Québec à Montéal inside the Woodwork Hall (Salle des Boiseries). I asked if anyone knew what part of the former church we were in, but no one seemed to have more information. Knowing that in Montréal, and the whole province of Québec, education used to be in the hands of the Church until the 60's, when the Quiet Revolution occurred and a lot of changes took place, I assumed the church was purchased by the university during this period, when schools and colleges became under the responsibility of the State and a lot of religious buildings were repurposed. To my surprise, I discovered that St-Jacques Church was in fact Montréal's first Cathedral! It was consecrated in 1825 and burned down in 1852 (along with 1200 other buildings). They eventually built Mary Queen of the World Cathedral and proceeded to rebuild St-Jacques to serve as a parish church in 1857. The building endured two more fires and reconstructions, until it was purchased by the University in 1973.
During my research, I came across this photo which shows how the block looked like in 1976. St-Jacques spire and transept, considered historic monuments, as well as Notre Dame de Lourdes chapel, were later integrated into the University campus.