A Home for Rich and Poor Alike
This huge building is home to Maison de Lauberivière, which provides the down-and-out with meals and a roof, helping them find their way again in society. The ground floor has had stores ever since the building was built in 1926. The upper floors were long home to the reputed Château Champlain Hotel, whose very popular cabaret had this part of town hopping.
Parties and hangovers
For years this was one of the most popular places for a night out in Lower Town. It was the heyday of cabarets. But the music stopped when the nearby raised highway cut the neighbourhood in two, chasing away many locals. The area’s decline, which reached a nadir in the 1980s, also kept tourists away and meant a new use had to be found for the glamorous building.
One of the city’s grandest hotels
In 1926 the construction of Château Champlain was a godsend for municipal officials, who were keen to attract modern tourist facilities to the area around the new railway station, opened 10 years earlier. Québec City mayor and businessman Joseph Samson was one of the project’s owners.
In keeping with the architecture of the railway station and other Québec City landmarks, architect Ludger Robitaille opted for a simplified castle style. The hotel had two wings and 90 rooms. The ground floor with its hotel services and street level shops was sparely designed, although the façade and main entrance—with its distinctive slant—were much more ornate. Its six-sided turret, featuring a sloping copper roof with skylights on top in the style of the railway station and Château Frontenac, had a large canopy and added a touch of prestige to the hotel.
A new vocation
Once the hotel closed, some 40 religious orders and the archdiocese of Québec joined forces to open Maison de Lauberivière in 1983. It was the biggest hostel in town. As well as providing the homeless with bed and board, it gradually put in place a series of support services to help the destitute help themselves. In the 2000s Maison de Lauberivière innovated by opening satellite day centres and social housing for some of its clientele.