It's hard to look at Montreal's skyline without spotting a church. So much so that American writer and humorist Mark Twain once said upon a visit to Montreal in 1888 that you "couldn't throw a brick" in the city "without breaking a church window."
Indeed, Montreal has a lot of Catholic infrastructures; remnants of a once-religious regime and a population formerly guided by the path drawn by the overbearing clergy. From the grand church towers of various architectural styles that dot the skyline, to palatial nunneries and schools, the Catholic church has left its mark on the cityscape.
Of course, church attendance has rapidly declined in recent decades as society moved toward secularism. Though Montreal still has a practising Catholic population, many of the city's giant churches are no longer appropriate venues for their dwindling flocks.
That's why so many former Catholic churches are in disrepair, some are even completely blocked off.
Others, however, have been reimagined as some of the city's trendiest venues for all to enjoy. Here's a list of some of the coolest former churches in the city:
Le Chic Resto Pop
This popular restaurant prides itself on social responsibility by prioritizing socio-professional insertion, and local economy.
During the day, it offers meals at reduced prices to those in need. At night, it serves quality food to customers.
Le Jubé is the higher-end portion of the restaurant that makes fancy dining accessible to all. Its high windows and mid-century modern architecture ensure this will be a dining experience you won't soon forget. Plus, you'll be helping out a great institution!
In addition, la grande salle and Le Jubé are both accessible to those with reduced mobility.
Théâtre Paradoxe now sits in the former Notre-Dame-de-Perpétuel-Secours Church, adding its gorgeous history and architecture to the overall vibe of the venue.
The theatre is already pretty well known as a venue for a wide variety of events, from performance art to fetish celebrations. It is even extremely popular as a high-end wedding location.
It is definitely a place to check out next time your favourite performer is hosted there.
Bourgie Hall – Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
The 2011 inauguration of the nave of the former Erskine and American Church gave the magnificent architectural build a new life as an art venue.
Indeed, Bourgie hall is now part of the sprawling Museum of Fine Arts Complex. The auditorium that once held church attendees is now a giant music hall.
The venue presents the perfect opportunity to impress a date, just saying!
LGBTQ+ Center and AIDS Community Care
Montreal LGBTQ+ Community Centre.
Alright, this isn't exactly a trendy venue, but its irony is too good to pass up.
A former church complex just south of Parc la Fontaine has become the epicenter of 2SLGBTQIA+ activism in Montreal. From a symbol of a not-always-queer-supporting faith to a place of community and support, the building hosting the Montreal LGBTQ+ Community Centre has survived quite the makeover.
Downstairs is AIDS Community Care, which serves people who are HIV and Hepatitis C positive. They are always looking for volunteers. In addition, rooms are available for booking on the centre's website for activities and events that serve or benefit queer communities in the city.
This article has been updated since its original publication date on August 7, 2018.