École Guigues – Restoration and Adaptive Re-use

Project Architect:
Michael Kelly

Completion Date:
1997

Project Overview:
École Guigues was built in 1904 by the Roman Catholic School Board to provide education in French to Franco-Ontarian children.  In 1912, the Province of Ontario passed Regulation 17 restricting French language instruction in the classroom.  This government action led to protests and court challenges from the Franco- Ontarian community and counter measures including the closing of the school and the disbanding of the School Board by the authorities. Civil disobedience, led by the women’s group “les guardiennes”, climaxed in January, 1916 with the occupation of the school by the community.  Police attempts to take back the school were frustrated by “les guardiennes” who, armed with hat pins, blocked the school’s entrance.  The prolonged conflict finally ended in 1927 when the controversial Regulation 17 was withdrawn permitting the growth of French language education in Ontario.  After 75 years of serving the community, Guigues School was closed by the School Board in 1979 and remained vacant in a state of disrepair between 1980 and 1995 when it was purchased by the Centre de jour Guigues, a Francophone seniors community centre organization.

The restoration and adaptive re-use of École Guigues included the transformation of the lower two floors of the structure as a multi-purpose community centre for seniors: Centre de jour Gigues.  The two upper floors were developed as 14 condominium apartments for seniors.  The project was a private-public joint venture partnership and was completed in 1997.

École Guigues is a heritage building designated under Part 4 of the Ontario Heritage Act. The project won the City of Ottawa Award for Excellence in Conservation in 1997.