About

The only place of its kind in North America

A core component of Bibliothèque de Québec, Maison de la littérature houses a public library and a permanent exhibition on Québec literature, writing carrels, a comic book workshop, a creation studio, a writer’s residence, a quiet lounge and a variety of events presented on its stage throughout the year.

Open to all, Maison de la littérature is a place for writing, creating, meeting, and participating—bringing literature to life in a lively, warm, and inviting setting. It is a space for the spoken and written word and for the creation and dissemination of the literary arts.

Rooted in Québec City’s historic and architectural heritage, Maison de la littérature promotes Québec literature and authors, both at home and abroad, and offers residents, authors, and literary professionals an inspiring space with a range of collections, services, activities, and events.

Maison de la littérature is housed in the former Wesley Temple, in the heart of Old Québec. The building underwent a stunning interior transformation and a modern, luminous extension was added, all courtesy of architectural firm Chevalier Morales Architectes.

Maison de la littérature was made possible by a partnership between Ville de Québec and Institut Canadien de Québec. It is run and managed by Institut Canadien de Québec.

Building history

The first neogothic church to be erected in Québec City, Wesley Temple was built in 1848 according to plans by architect Edward Stavely as a place of worship for the Methodist community. The church was closed in 1931.

In 1944, Wesley Temple became Salle de L’Institut Canadien. Acquired through the generosity of Senator Lorne C. Webster by the City of Québec, the building was converted for use by Institut Canadien and reopened with a public library and a concert and lecture hall.

Salle de L’Institut played a major role in Québec City’s cultural history, notably in Les Lundis de L’Institut, a series that hosted many famous artists during its nearly sixty-year run. As for the library, it is one of the oldest public libraries in the province. To celebrate Institut Canadien de Québec’s 150th anniversary, the site in front of the building was converted into a square in 1998 and features Nous sommes un peuple…, a work by artist Luc Archambault.

When Salle de L’Institut was closed in 1999, the Institute came up with an innovative building concept to meet the needs of Québec’s literary community and showcase Québec literature, while remaining a public library for residents of Old Québec. This was to be Maison de la littérature. Even before opening its doors, it featured a writer’s residency program (2005); Première Ovation en arts littéraires (2009), a source of support for up-and-coming writers; and the literary festival Québec en toutes lettres (2010).

The building that houses Maison de la littérature is a Québec heritage site. More information about the history of the building can be found in a virtual exhibit commissioned by Ville de Québec.

Maison de la littérature is a member of Fédération des maisons d’écrivains et des patrimoines littéraires, the French federation of writer’s residences and literary heritage sites.

Part of its grand opening, PEN International 81st congres was hosted in Québec City in October 2015.

Awards

Maison de la littérature offers up a dazzling blend of culture and architecture,with many awards and distinctions as fitting testament.

December 2014: Chevalier Morales architectes wins a Canadian Architect Award of Excellence for Maison de la littérature.This prize is awarded to architectural projects in the design phase.

November 2016: During its fifth religious heritage forum, Conseil du patrimoine religieux selects the City of Québec for an Award of Excellence (French only) in the Reuse category, for the renovation project that transformed Wesley Temple into Maison de la littérature.

November 2016: Bernard Gilbert, Maison de la littérature’s general manager from September 2013 to December 2017, receives Conseil de la culture de Québec’s Cultural Development Award (French only) for his contribution to Maison de la littérature.Dubbed the Prix François-Samson, this award is presented to honour someone whose recent efforts have had a major impact on cultural development in Québec City.

December 2016: Maison de la littérature takes first place at the Mérites d’architecture de la Ville de Québec awards (French only) in the Municipal Buildings category.

October 2017: TAMDAQ (Table des milieux documentaires et archivistiques du Québec) honours the City of Québec and Chevalier Morales architectes with its 2017 Québec Library and Archival Centre Architecture Award (French only) for Maison de la littérature.

November 2017: Chevalier Morales architectes takes home two awards for Maison de la littérature at the Ordre des architectes du Québec award show.

December 2017: Mathieu Valade’s Éphémères durables wins a Mérites d’architecture de la Ville de Québec award (French only) in the Works of Art category.The judges cite the lyricism of the work and its marriage with the surrounding architecture of Maison de la littérature.

May 2018 : Maison de la littérature recieves a Governor General's Medal in Architecture, awarded by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) and the Canada Council for the Arts.

November 2018 : Dominique Lemieux, Maison de la littérature’s general manager and Les libraires' former general manager (2009-2018), receives Conseil de la culture de Québec’s Cultural Development Award (French only).