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I have not been able to locate a whole lot about this huge abandoned structure.
What I do know is that the building was constructed between 1957 and 1959 and it was at one time a monastery, the purpose for which the building was constructed.
The facility has over 200 rooms, 30 classrooms and conference rooms, a kitchen, cafeteria, gymnasium, chapel, laundry, even it’s own cemetery!
At some point along the way, the religious organization that resided and utilized the facility left, late in 2010 the building was reopened as an accommodation center for the elderly.
This would be a very short-lived venture as early in 2012, the 15 residents and therapists working and residing here were forced to leave after the town evicted them due to breaches of town planning regulations and fire safety.
It appears that sometime around 2016, the building was being used as a wellness retreat facility and integrated health center for health and fitness leaders to host workshops, week-end retreats, symposiums, certifications and other corporate events.
Unfortunately, all of this fizzled away around the end of 2016, this is when the tweets stopped and all online communications seem to have ended. The website and Facebook page are now gone, all that remains is a dead Twitter profile and LinkedIn account.
The building seems to have been vacant and largely unused since October of 2016.
This location was put on my radar a few times in 2018 and 2019, once by a guy who claimed to have permission to visit it and invited me to tag along with him and his fiancee…no thanks.
Then it was brought up again to me by a friend local to the area and she had some good intel for me, she knew the routine of the person who shows up on weekends, she knew when he arrived and when he left. She told me as long as I was gone by a certain time on a specific day that I would be fine. She also showed me the rather difficult method of entry, I wasn’t looking forward to that!
The trip here would be a very long drive and would be one of many locations on a stacked road trip that would take me over 1,400 KM’s round trip!
I arrived here good and early, parked pretty far out of the way and made a very long walk to the hilltop location, every door and window was very well secured, and there was plenty of snow on the ground, more on this later.
Walking the entire perimeter of this huge building, I was looking for any possible way in and I wasn’t finding it. I located the entry point that my friend advised me of and unfortunately, there was no way I was getting up and in that little hole. But finally I found myself a door that had not been secured and took little to no effort to open, I was here and I was inside – I started shooting right away.
According to the data on my photos, I took my first photo just before 10 am, the facility was huge with multiple floors and wings, I would need all day to shoot this place but I had been advised as long as I was out by 3 pm that I would have no problem.
All was going well, I had covered the main floor up to the 3rd floor, the gym, the chapel and more, I was making very good time with my photos. However, just as I was getting to one of the good floors, the 4th floor, I spotted a black SUV coming up the driveway, I took my last picture at 10:30 am.
The SUV did a slow drive around the property, before he completed one whole loop of the building, he started honking his horn, he sped up and drove faster, circling the building and honking his horn – he seemed to have spotted footprints in the snow.
The SUV drove off, back down the driveway where he came from – crisis averted.
NOPE, Back up he came honking away, this time he had his head out the window and he was yelling at the building.
My go-to reaction in these situations is to wait, he’ll give up and leave…this guy did NOT give up and leave, he parked his car and came inside.
At this point, I should have run to the emergency exit at the back and left, but I didn’t – this place was so huge there was no way he was going to search each and every room until he found me.
Or would he?
I decided to wait him out, he’d come in, look around, give up and leave,
The angry Frenchman seemed to be carrying a pipe, or something metal, he was wandering, room by room floor by floor, yelling in French and whacking things with his weapon of choice.
While I could hear him on the 1st and 2nd floors, I really should have taken the time he was taking to run to the emergency exit and leave.
The voice got louder, the bangs got closer, and I tucked myself into a closet in an unassuming empty room, quietly closing the door and standing deathly still.
The angry Frenchman was now on my floor and he was coming for me, I was mentally preparing for how I would defend myself, or explain myself – or both.
“HEY, LET’S GO” yelled the voice from up the hall, followed by some angry French gibberish and then more English “LET’S GO, I FIND YOU”
He enters the room I am in, “LET’S GO”, the metal rod whacks the closet door that I am standing in, and then hear him in the hallway, he is in the room beside me and the loud voice and metal bangs grow quieter and farther away – I might just get out of here!!
He moves up to the top floor, follows the same process on the top floor and eventually I hear him directly above me, the man finishes the top floor then he goes silent…
Is he now standing in a hallway listening for my movements?
Is he in a central area waiting for me to attempt my escape?
I stand, deathly quiet and still trying to listen for any sound – nothing.
Eventually, I decided to quietly open my closet door and assess the situation, maybe head to the hallway and listen. As I step out of my dark and cramped closet accommodation I see his car outside, he is trying to lock the door that he tracked my footprints to.
At this point I should have headed for the emergency exit, ran into the woods and head down to the road and off the property.
Nope – my mind still tells me he is going to give up and leave.
Once he gets the door locked and secured I am certain that he’s gong to head back down the long driveway and leave, then I can finish my pics and shoot some video, I drove way too far to just leave and not see this through.
Nope – he gets in his SUV, parks it right at the front door and comes back inside – and he is silent.
While he seems to no longer be looking for me, no longer yelling and no longer denting things with his pipe – I have no idea where he is. Is he in the bathroom, is he reading the newspaper, is he quietly wandering the halls?
It’s time for me to leave.
My hiding spot was on the 4th floor near the middle of the building, the back fire escape, the only door that I know to be open for me to exit was on the 2nd floor on the far right of the building at the back down a long corridor on an attached wing.
If ever I stepped more softly I don’t remember, I calculated every step, not a squeak of the cole, not a crunch of paint chip. I had to make my way all the way down my 4th-floor corridor, opening several doors along the way, taking stairwells down to the 2nd floor, stopping every few steps to listen for even the slightest sound.
The whole objective of exploring is to NOT get caught, especially after having invested THIS much time and effort, everything I have ever learned in this hobby leading up to this point was being practiced. Stealth, silence, listening, observation, awareness – all of it!
I am now on the final stretch, the long corridor of a wing on the right side of the building, extending to the rear. With a gentle push of the emergency exit, the latch disengages, and I step out into the cold Quebec winter air, I am almost free!
Not knowing where my pipe-wielding monsieur was, I headed just into the woods using the trees for cover, the snow was above my knees.
I wasn’t free yet, there was a part of the walkout where I had to potentially walk within sight of the caretaker, where his car was parked at the front door if he was sitting at a window and looking in my direction at that very moment, I would be seen.
Quickly I dash from my tree cover and run for it, at a brisk pace I am now making my way down a very long driveway toward the road. The driveway is 550 meters, half a kilometre, just over a quarter mile.
There are a few spots where I can jump into the woods and hide if I hear the SUV coming, but most of the walk down is in the open.
Finally, cold, sweaty, winded, heart pumping and adrenalin flowing I am on the main road and off the property, about 10 more minutes of walking and I’m at my car, but at least for now I am out of that situation and my head is free of pipe dents!!
I didn’t get to shoot any video, I didn’t get to photograph the top floor or the basement and I really should have just left as soon as I realized this guy wasn’t leaving.
So, here I am several years after this experience with some pretty good photos and a fantastic story to tell about an angry Frenchman with a pipe vs the Urban Explorer in a closet!