A (largely) unknown 40 year old minor masterpiece on the Canadian prairies: Our Lady of the Prairies Abbey, Holland Manitoba, Jacques Collin Architect

An inventive, but little known Trappist Abbey (monastery) in rural Manitoba from 1978 by French born architect and U of Manitoba professor, Jacques Collin (1927-2000).

If it has any reputation, it is (the misconception) that it is somehow derived from le Corbusier’s La Tourette. Arguably, as much J-N L Durand as it is Corb (and more Villa Stein than La Tourette), most significantly, it draws on mediaeval monastic models and local agricultural building types: barns, grain elevators and sheds - and employs ordinary, local construction materials and techniques - for symbolic as much as practical purposes - to root the building firmly in its (French) Canadian prairie context.

Had it been built in Guelph or an hour outside Montréal or Vancouver, it may well have been part of the post-war Canadian architectural canon.

Session Details

Session ID: 
Wednesday, May 24th, 2017: 3:30pm - 5:00pm
1.5 Structured/Core AIA LU
Venue : 

Session Speaker(s)

Garth Norbraten, OAA, MRAIC

Garth Norbraten Architect Inc.

A practicing architect in Toronto, interested in history and theory, Garth occasionally teaches design studios at Ryerson University. To illustrate the themes of a studio he was preparing, he was looking for a project that wasn’t in central Canada and wasn't well known. He vaguely remembered Jacques showing slides of this building in the only half-class Garth had with him. 30 years later Garth made his first trip to see the project and came to realize how brilliant it is.

We're Starting In


24-27 May 2017
Ottawa, Ontario

About Us

The Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the Ontario Association of Architects have partnered to present the 2017 Festival of Architecture May 24-27, 2017 in Ottawa.

Join the conversation:


For general information, please contact us at:

  • festival@raic.org 
  • 1-844-856-RAIC ext 200
  • 613-241-3600
  • 330-55 Murray Street, Ottawa, ON K1N 5M3