New program teaches restoration of heritage buildings in Quebec

Currently there are 400 people in Quebec capable of adequately working on heritage buildings. Organizers of the new program want to make sure that know-how is passed on and preserved.

The program is open to stone masons, carpenters and cabinet-makers

Old Quebec is known as a heritage jewel, but someone needs to be able to intervene when these buildings start to crumble. (Daniel Coulombe/Radio-Canada)

As Quebec gets older, so do its buildings.

Old Quebec City, especially, lauded for its architectural heritage value, will need more maintenance and upkeep as the decades go by.

But across the province, there's only a limited number of craftspeople who are capable of working on these historic buildings.

"We noticed that this expertise was on the way to being lost," said France Girard, project manager in architecture and heritage at the Conseil des Métiers d'Art.

She said there are currently no more than 400 people in Quebec capable of adequately working on heritage buildings.

"The preservation and transmission of this know-how is directly linked to the preservation and transmission of our heritage," said Girard.

That's why the Conseil des Métiers d'Art is offering a 15-week training for stonemasons and carpenters — a first in Quebec.

The training, which is organized in partnership with CEGEP du Vieux-Montréal, will accept its first cohort of students in January.

The program will teach carpenters, stonemasons and cabinet-makers best practices for heritage restoration. (Daniel Coulombe/Radio-Canada)

Students will learn partly at a distance and partly in person. Some of the work just can't be taught online, Girard said.

"Everything we can do remotely we will do, The rest is not training we can give to 15 or 20 students at a time. It will be workshops with three or four students maximum, given in rooms large enough to respect all health regulations and ensure distancing."

She added that one benefit of partial distance learning is that people from all regions of Quebec can participate.

During the 15 weeks, Girard said the students will learn "best practices" in restoration.

"How to assess a building, for example, to determine the right intervention to do, depending on its time of construction and architectural style," she said.

The Conseil des métiers d'art developed the training in response to repeated requests from clients and architects who were looking for a trained workforce who could be relied on to intervene on heritage projects.

Now, she said, craftspeople will be able to get a 500-hour college study certificate in heritage restoration.

Based on a report by Radio-Canada's Sébastien Tanguay


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