The ruins of a burned-down monastery have become a serene park and community space.
The Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park is nestled in a bend of the La Salle River just outside of the town of St. Norbert. The church and monastery were established in 1892 and named Our Lady of the Prairies. About 50 monks lived and worked here, members of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, also called Trappists. As the city of Winnipeg and its surroundings grew, the order left in the 1970s to seek a quieter location.
In 1983, a fire destroyed the empty monastery. The provincial government decided to save what remained of the architecture and establish a park at the location. Now, the park is open to the public and home to different community initiatives. The original guest or carriage house now contains the St. Norbert Arts Centre, with a large surrounding garden and greenhouse. Behind the ruins, the World Peace Pagoda was constructed in 2000 by the Dharma Centre of Winnipeg and the Buddhist community of Manitoba. The monastery itself is used each year for performances by the Shakespeare in the Ruins theatre company. If you wander around near the river, you will also find the remains of a small shrine used by the original monks.
The Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park is located on Treaty One territory, which is the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), Ininew (Cree), Dakota, and Dene peoples, and the homeland of the Red River Métis.
Know Before You Go
The park is free to visit. Driving south through St. Norbert, turn right off of Pembina Highway onto Rue des Trappistes, then left onto Rue des Ruines du Monastere.
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