Dream of Quebec temple near reality with groundbreaking

MONTREAL, Quebec — In the empty garage of a vacated automobile dealership — which will be demolished to make way for the Montreal Quebec Temple — more than 450 invited guests from four stakes participated in the groundbreaking services April 9.

The four stakes comprise the temple district. Three of the stakes are in Canada — Montreal Quebec, Montreal Mount Royal Quebec, and Ottawa Ontario. The fourth is in the United States, the Montpelier Vermont Stake.

Following the meeting, Elder Gary J. Coleman of the Seventy and second counselor in the North America Northeast Area presidency led members from the garage to the parking lot for the groundbreaking ceremony.

In his comments, Elder Coleman encouraged members to "come often . . . come with the family . . . come with the family names . . . in establishing the Lord's temple in Montreal."

Elder Coleman also offered the site dedication prayer.

Other speakers included Elder Lawrence R. Fuller, Area Authority Seventy; Pres. Benoit Duquette of the Montreal stake; and Pres. Walter Svenson of the Mount Royal stake. Pres. Gordon De Sevigny of the Ottawa stake offered the invocation, and Pres. Richard Baldwin of the Montpellier stake gave the benediction.

In his comments, Elder Fuller said, "Our lineage is sacred because it reaches back to our Heavenly Father."

Pres. Duquette noted that when he joined the Church in 1975, members in Montreal drove 45 hours to attend the Alberta Temple in Cardston, or would fly to the Swiss Temple. Since 1990, he noted members have traveled for six hours to attend the Toronto Ontario Temple.

"As we stand here this morning," said Pres. Svenson, "although the spot is still without form, with our spiritual eyes we can see a . . . fountain of potential blessings, a hill of personal challenge and the mountain of the Lord's house, foreseen by Isaiah."

Missionaries first traveled through Lower Canada, as Quebec was then known, in the 1830s, soon after the restoration of the gospel, but found limited success among the mostly French-speaking population.

The Canadian Mission was organized in 1919, and the first English-speaking branch was organized in Montreal in 1930. A meetinghouse was purchased in 1942 and served local members for 30 years.

President Thomas S. Monson, now first counselor in the First Presidency, served as mission president in the area and, in 1961, assigned six French-speaking missionaries to teach in Quebec. Membership among the French-speaking immigrants grew steadily until a French-speaking district was created in 1974. Four years later, the first French-speaking stake in North America, the Montreal Quebec Stake, was created.

The English-speaking Montreal Quebec Mount Royal Stake was created in 1980. Approximately 8,300 members now reside in Quebec. Gerard Pelchat, the first stake president in the Montreal stake, rememebers telling friends in the Toronto temple a year ago of his desire for a temple in Montreal. "I never dreamed it would happen, let alone this soon," he said.

Pierre-Paul Morin, a counselor in the Montreal Quebec Mission presidency, led a group of members from Chicoutimi, Quebec, on a five-hour drive to attend the groundbreaking. They left immediately after the services to return for the baptism of a new 80-year-old member.

The architect, Andrij Serbyn, said the temple will be faced with Bethel white granite, which is quarried in northern Vermont. He expected demolition of the automobile showroom to begin within a few days of the groundbreaking.