Of Legacies Both Modest and Grand

It was destroyed by fire in 1977.

Église Notre-Dame-de-Foy was the fifth church in over 350 years to stand on this corner in Quebec City.  Each one was destroyed by fire – however this one would be the last.

Eglise Notre-Dame-de-Foy 6

When I first went to Quebec City to visit my future in-laws in the 1980s, the church was just a blackened shell, particularly eery in winter as the snow fell and accumulated in the burnt out ruins.

It wouldn’t be until the mid 1990s when the site would be renovated into a small urban park – a quiet place of reflection.

The parish of Notre-Dame-de-Foy is one of the oldest in Quebec which can trace its roots back to 1637.  It is now designated a historical site.  The original building served as a fortified post for the English during the Battle of Sainte-Foy in 1759-1760.

Eglise Notre-Dame-de-Foy 2

It is this location where the Simard family gathered this past Labour Day weekend on an unseasonably hot day to lay my father-in-law to rest in the small adjacent cemetery.

Eglise Notre-Dame-de-Foy 3

This was once their parish church – the place my in-laws came on Sundays and Holy Days to attend Mass with their young family.  It is now where Paul-Emile has come to rest, only a few blocks away from the place he called home for over 55 years.

Eglise Notre-Dame-de-Foy 4

Even though the family patriarch passed away in February, there were fresh tears on this day – to be expected – but also smiles and laughter, remembering the soft-spoken man who was honest, hard-working, and kind.  We could all be so lucky to be remembered with such love and affection.

This is not intended to be a sad story, but one of legacy – of time well-served and the passing of responsibility to future generations.  Of lives long lived, overcoming the hard years and celebrating the good.

This is the story of a once-grand cathedral and an ordinary man.  Over their lifetimes, both experienced great loss and gain.

… but now both have come to rest together.

Eglise Notre-Dame-de-Foy

This post was inspired by Thursday Doors, a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.






  1. Joanne, you sound lie a real photographer to me the way you notice all these nuances in the building. Your eyes sound so animated and alive. I’ve been to a few Cathedrals here too where the sun is streaming through the stained glass windows and reflecting on the floorboards and it is quite an ethereal experience.
    I’m sorry for the loss of your FIL. Sounds like his legacy continues through his family.
    Best wishes,


    • Thanks Rowena. I’ve seen the remains of this old church many times over the years, but on this occasion, it was the first time I really LOOKED at it. I found it hard to walk away from – I just kept taking ‘one more’ photo.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know that feeling so well. Thought I’d spotted a kindred spirit. That focus has got more than one photographer in a spot of trouble. I’ve always remembered that the first Australian to die in the Gulf War all those years ago was a photographer.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a lovely tribute ❤ I'm glad you all had him.
    I love the stained glass reflected on the floor.
    Also, I've been in Quebec City (for weeks and weeks) and this is vaguely familiar. That seldom happens to me. I think this is the third thing from Quebec #ThursdayDoors I have a faint memory of. That fire thing, that rings a bell.


  3. Beautiful photos Joanne! And what a lovely story behind this church. What a resilient street corner. No matter how many churches burn down there, another one pops up. Excellent post and great blog 🙂



  4. Hey Joanne! I truly appreciate your loving words about the legacy of both your FIL and the location of his burial. As you say, it appears he planned a fitting departure for himself–and provided a gift to everyone in his life who had the ability to see it. And while his passing maybe sad and he will be missed, it is also a very natural experience that we all must go through eventually. Do we do it with dignity and awareness? I can’t help but believe that a great deal of the choice lies in our own hands. May we all follow the example of your FIL. ~Kathy


    • The idea of dying with dignity and grace has come up on a couple of posts today with other bloggers. It’s always interesting when that synchronicity happens.

      Nature is wise and made autumn – the dying process – a beautiful thing. As mankind drifted away from nature and towards manmade inventions like organized religion, we lost that message. You’re right that a great deal of the choice lies with us.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. May he rest in peace in this beautiful spot. I can imagine the mixture of emotions on this bright day as you came together to bid your final farewells. Sending hugs and healing to you and your family Joanne.


  6. What a beautiful tribute to two great legacies. I had to take three walks through the post because I was so moved by the visual tribute. I am enjoying a moment of silence aboard Amandla this morning as The Captain is in town with two of his friends who are visiting. I can not think of any better way to spend it then walking with you here this morning. RIP Paul-Emile. Hugs from Nosy Be.


    • There was some very creative thinking that went into making what was left of the church into a small park. The stairs can be climbed to the top of what would have been the bell tower. The view was amazing and there was a young family up there when I climbed it.
      A new church – MUCH smaller – was built on the opposite end of the cemetery. I guess they had decided that particular corner had seen enough bad luck 😏

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a beautiful place to be put to rest. A full life lived, filled with love & family. It what most of us strive for, it sounds like your father-in-law did just that!


    • Exactly Lynn. Even a modest life can be filled with all the ‘right stuff’, leaving memories of a good role model with the generations left behind – doing your best, loving and supporting your family, living within your means and finding joy in what you have rather than complaining about what you don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Not really anything to add to the comments prior to mine. I’m sorry for your loss. What a beautiful park was made out of all the fire-caused tragedies! I really like the weaving of the story of the place and of your f-i-l. It worked beautifully.



    • My husband and I were commenting on the fact that for all the times we drove past this site, we never stopped to really look at it. A shame really. I was delighted when I learned this was where my FIL would be laid to rest.


    • I too loved the stained glass. The afternoon sun shone directly through the ruins, hit the glass, and created the beautiful coloured shadows inside the visitor area. Whether the effect was a happy accident or deliberate design, I can only guess 🙂


  9. Joanne, every time you surprise me – these are beautiful thoughts – a mix of sadness of losses and joy about beauty in the present. And I love the reflections of the stained glass on the floor.


    • Thank you Jesh for the lovely compliment. I try to give my posts some meaning and I’m thrilled when someone tells me it works 💕

      The coloured shadows on the floor in the visitor area was the first thing I saw when I walked in from the cemetery. It took my breath away!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. A touching story about the fate of an ancient cathedral in Quebec City, as it had a very personal connection for you to your father-in- law’s final resting place in a near-by cemetery! Your photos also give a vivid account of the building, Joanne.


    • Not indelicate at all. It’s simply a reality of life in the north. In very cold and snowy areas like Quebec (and my own home town in Northern Ontario), there are no burials in the winter.

      Cremated remains are either stored by the funeral home or by a family member, if they prefer. My FIL’s ashes were kept by one of my brother-in-laws. My mother’s ashes were stored by the funeral home.

      If the remains are not cremated, each cemetery has a (unheated) storage building where the caskets are held until the spring when the ground thaws – normally by mid-May. That was the case when my own father passed away.

      After the ground thaws, the family then schedules a separate graveside service for the burial. Admittedly, my FIL’s was scheduled rather late in the summer because of trying to work around everyone’s conflicts.

      Thanks for asking, Nancy. I forget that not everyone lives in similar climate and have the same issues to deal with.


  11. Beautifully written tribute, and woven poetically to tell the story of both the church and your FIL. I loved the last image with the stained glass window’s shadows, color, and light streaming into the building.


    • I like cemeteries. I find them interesting places full of stories – some tragedies, some lives well lived, and every once in a while, a comic phrase that indicates someone with a sense of humour. They are my favourite, but very hard to find.

      As far as the afterlife goes, I’m not in a hurry to find out … 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This was a wonderful tribute Joanne. Our condolences to you and the family. I love how they incorporated the new stained glass into the structure and also how they made the remains of the old church into a monument itself.


    • It was really quite sad how long these ruins sat there untouched. I’m guessing these things take time to get a site declared heritage and then make appropriate plans for its future.
      You know a place has really touched you when you feel a reluctance to leave.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. A moving tribute and I admire the way you meshed heritage – material and familial – together and spoke of legacy on both fronts. Condolences too for your family’s loss, though as you say, little need for sadness for a life well lived.


    • Thanks Deb. Getting into a small urban cemetery can be nearly impossible. I barely contained my squeal of surprise when I learned this was my father-in-law’s finally resting place. He had the foresight 20 years ago to purchase plots for him and my mother-in-law after being on a long waiting list. It had obviously been very important to him and I’m delighted that this is now where he rests.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I walked in from the back from the cemetery and the coloured shadows from the stained glass was the first thing I saw. It was kind of magical.

      It’s always sad to say good-bye to a loved one, but when it’s been a long life lived with love for family and friends, there are deep ripples left behind – all of them good ❤️


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