University

Relive the formidable development of the Université Laval campus in 18 archive photographs

Université Laval was founded in 1852. Its main mission is to provide quality education to French speakers in Quebec. Theology, medicine, law and art are taught there. In the first half of the 20th centurye century, Université Laval is diversifying its teaching offer and increasing its research activities. Following this, the number of students is increasing. The seminary in Old Quebec is overcrowded and no longer sufficient. Then you have to leave the city.


Laval University, Old Quebec.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, P90399). Photo by P. Carpentier

Laval University, Old Quebec.

1) Modern campus


Monsignor Maurice Roy and other dignitaries at the construction of the university residence.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P314-50-1D). Photo by G. Driscoll

Monsignor Maurice Roy and other dignitaries at the construction of the university residence.

In 1925, the University began to move out of Old Quebec, notably by building a science pavilion in Sainte-Foy. If in the beginning the Université Laval campus was divided between Old Quebec and Sainte-Foy, the university administration wanted to build a large campus in the suburbs of Quebec City, like American campuses.

Between 1942 and 1955, Laval University acquired several agricultural and forest lands in the towns of Sainte-Foy and Sillery. In particular, about 900,000 dollars will be spent on the purchase of the 2.5 km area2. It was Ernest Lemieux, professor of the university, who proposed the construction project of a modern university residence and this project was accepted. Eager to learn from the good and bad practices of other universities, several influential figures from the university administration visit American and European campuses to learn from them.


Fiset et Royer architects are working on plans for the university residence.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P315-50-4D). Photo by G. Driscoll

Fiset et Royer architects are working on plans for the university residence.

2) Edouard Fiset and his vision


Facade of the Center and Faculty of Forestry Engineering.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P307-50-1UC). Photo by G. Driscoll

Facade of the Center and Faculty of Forestry Engineering.

The architect Edouard Fiset, who later became the chief architect of Expo 67, was chosen to design the master plan for the Sainte-Foy university campus.

The project is ambitious. Thus, it is planned to construct 41 buildings located in four different sectors, reminiscent of the cross of Laval University’s coat of arms. French gardens inspired by Versailles and the Champs-Elysées are planned. It is also planned to build underground galleries that will stretch for several kilometers. This sprawling campus is designed to accommodate approximately 15,000 students. In 1952, when it was still under construction, about 4,000 students were already studying at the university.


Monsignor Maurice Roy and other dignitaries at the construction of the university residence, rue de la Terrasse.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P314-50-6UC). Photo by G. Driscoll

Monsignor Maurice Roy and other dignitaries at the construction of the university residence, rue de la Terrasse.

The first works started in 1950. Very quickly, the first pavilion was built, it was the pavilion of the faculty of geodesy and forest engineering.

3) avenues


A view of Wallon Road, which borders the new university residence.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P306-50UC). Photo by G. Driscoll

A view of Wallon Road, which borders the new university residence.

Work is underway on four main roads to facilitate access and mobility to the new campus. A two-lane Walloon road is planned to be built in the west. There are also plans to extend Rue Saint-Cyrille to the north (now Boulevard René-Lévesque). Avenue du Grand Séminaire and Avenue de la Terrasse will form the embryonic street plan of the campus. These four roads will be built with a total length of 6.5 km.


Extension of rue Saint-Cyrille.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P303-50-1UC). Photo by G. Driscoll

Extension of rue Saint-Cyrille.

Despite the widening of public roads, the management of Université Laval wanted to keep its traffic lanes secret. Thus, the plan envisages avenues lined with trees and well-lit by electricity carried in tunnels under the campus. The soil removed during the construction of these avenues will be used to fill the surrounding lands.


A view of the newly constructed sidewalk along Rue de la Médecine.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P291-50-3D). Photo by G. Driscoll

A view of the newly constructed sidewalk along Rue de la Médecine.

4) Excavation and preparation


Part of the University City site.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P302-50UC). Photo by G. Driscoll

Part of the University City site.

About 325 employees work at the site, which started operating in 1950. A material camp is being built on the site of the future campus. The latter allows materials to be stored and converted at the construction site.


Material camp.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P298-50-7D). Photo by G. Driscoll

Material camp.

We proceed with the cleaning, leveling and blasting of the selected soil to prepare the ground for the construction site. Later, the construction of underground tunnels is started. Deep trenches are dug, almost 3 m deep and 4.5 m wide.


Excavation with tractor and mechanical shovel.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P311-50-6D). Photo by G. Driscoll

Excavation with tractor and mechanical shovel.

The underground galleries will allow water, electricity and telephone to be carried through the campus. The selection of underground galleries is not small. The latter prevent visual pollution of the campus by hiding poles and electrical wires. Moreover, it protects various public services (electricity and telephone) from the weather.


Rock blast.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P305-50-2D). Photo by G. Driscoll

Rock blast.

5) Reinforced concrete and formwork


Concreting the floor of the galleries.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P297-50-4D). Photo by G. Driscoll

Concreting the floor of the galleries.

While the trenches for the future underground galleries are already being dug, workers are building the formwork for the concrete and double steel mesh reinforcement of the tunnels. Concrete is made on site.


Workers working on strengthening the underground gallery.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P289-50-2D). Photo by G. Driscoll

Workers working on strengthening the underground gallery.

In the summer of 1950, no less than 2000 m of gallery was built and concreted. For this, the workers used 50,000 bags of cement, 8,600 tons of stone, 5,000 tons of sand, 40 tons of calcium chloride, 50,000 pounds of puzolite and 1,300 tons of reinforcement.


Installation of cork.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P304-50-2D). Photo by G. Driscoll

Installation of cork.

When completed, these tunnels should be able to carry a load of 90,000 pounds. To insulate these tunnels under construction from the cold and absorb condensation, one and a half inch thick cork panels are placed at the top of the tunnels.

In 1950, workers therefore installed 150,000 square feet of cork in the tunnels of the new campus.


Machines concreting the underground gallery.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P297-50-14D). Photo by G. Driscoll

Machines concreting the underground gallery.

6) Services


Electricians laying tubes for gallery and street lighting.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P289-50-1UC). Photo by G. Driscoll

Electricians laying tubes for gallery and street lighting.

The underground galleries are essential for the delivery of public services (telephone, water, electricity and sewage) to the new pavilions that will be built later. In addition, the distribution network offered by the tunnels makes it possible to centralize the management of public services.


Workers installing water pipes.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P301-50-6D). Photo by G. Driscoll

Workers installing water pipes.

The central lane of the tunnel provides quick access to wires and pipelines in the event of a breach. In the side walls of the tunnels, engineers place the cables responsible for the transmission of electricity and telephone to the new buildings.

On the wall of the ceiling, they install the electric cables responsible for the lighting of the avenues of the campus.

The new underground passages also allow drinking water to be delivered to the university campus. Water pipes are located inside the tunnels. These water pipes are attached to the pipes of Silleri municipality.


Workers working in the underground gallery.

National Archives of Quebec (E6, S7, SS1, D2591, P296-50UC). Photo by G. Driscoll

Workers working in the underground gallery.

By 1950, these new pipes were expected to be able to supply up to 1,800,000 liters of water to the campus each day. Sillery also allowed the campus sewers to be connected to the already existing system.

In the summer of 1950, the construction of the university residence was started. This titanic construction site directed enormous resources and hundreds of workers. Thanks to these great works, the dream of a university town on the Saint-Foy plateau has become a reality, creating the basis for the construction of new pavilions and the training of thousands of students.

Text by Marc-André Dénommée, archivist at the Library and Archives Nationale de Québec

References

  • “The city of Laval is being built”. [En ligne].
  • Leclerc, R. (2013). Laval University campus: site of modernization of the Catholic university institution and Quebec. Studies in the History of Religion, 79(2), 41–54. https://doi.org/10.7202/1018593ar

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