Bouillon, Rev. Georges

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BOUILLON, Rev. Georges (1841-1932) was a priest in Ottawa who exhibited an unusual talent for architectural design and planning. Born on 10 February 1841 in Rimouski, Que. he was educated at the Christian Brothers school there and was sent to Mexico City in 1865 for a year to teach drawing and calligraphy. Upon his return he studied theology at the Roman Catholic College in Ottawa and at the Grand Seminaire in Montreal, but there is no evidence that he had any formal training in architecture nor does he appear to have served an apprenticeship under another architect. He was ordained as a priest on 25 January 1874 and the following day became vicar at the Cathedral in Ottawa. In 1878 he was appointed priest for the Parish of Notre Dame, Ottawa, and during the next thirteen years executed some of his most important commissions for the Ottawa diocese including his best known work, the neo-Gothic chapel for the Rideau Street Convent in Ottawa (1886). It featured a cast iron structural system supporting elaborate fan vaults which were executed in wood rather than in plaster or stucco; the rich and ornate interior was unique in eastern Canada, and contrasted dramatically with the austere gray stone exterior of the chapel. When the convent was demolished in 1972 the chapel interior was carefully dismantled and later reassembled inside the new National Gallery of Canada in 1987-88. Bouillon retired as parish priest in 1891 (Ottawa Free Press, 11 Aug. 1891, 4). This did not curtail his architectural activities, however, but merely provided him with more time to accept commissions from other diocese clients in Ontario and Quebec. The most ambitious of these was his visionary plan for 'Nova Sancta Sophia', a vast Basilica to be built in New York City and projected to cost $35 million dollars. His initial plans were unveiled in 1902 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 3 Nov. 1902, 9, descrip.), and the drawings and architectural model for the project were later displayed in Ottawa in November 1911, and were described in detail in local newspapers (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 13 Nov. 1911, 2, descrip.; 15 Nov. 1911, 5, descrip. in Letter to the Editor). This scheme was never realised.
In the area of secular commissions Bouillon was less successful. In 1907 he was one of thirty contestants who submitted an entry in the competition for the Departmental & Justice Buildings in Ottawa. The assessor Edmund Burke ranked his entry in 26th place, commenting that it '..was not an architectural creation and is entirely unsuitable for the purpose for which it is intended and is entirely out of harmony with the existing buildings' (OA, Horwood Papers). The competition drawings by Bouillon survive and can be found in the Caron Collection, ANQT, Trois Rivieres.
Bouillon retired from parish activity in 1904 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 29 June 1904, 1; C.A.B., xvii, Sept. 1904, ix). He died in Ottawa on 7 April 1932 (obit. Ottawa Journal, 7 April 1932, 1 and 15; obit. Le Droit [Ottawa], 7 April 1932, 1 & 8; Ottawa Citizen, 8 April 1932, 15; biog. in Who's Who and Why in Canada, 1915-16, 15). A catalogue of the works by Bouillon can be found in the publication entitled "In the National Gallery of Canada: One of the most beautiful chapels in the land", by Prof. Luc Noppen, 1988, 103-08)

OTTAWA

NOTRE DAME CEMETERY, Montreal Road, site plan and landscaping of the Cemetery, 1872 (L. Noppen, 103)
NOTRE DAME ROMAN CATHOLIC BASILICA, Sussex Street at St. Patrick Street, extensive alterations and improvements to the interior, with new galleries, 1876; tomb in the crypt for Monsignor Guigues, 1877-78; vaults and columns, 1878; side aisles, 1880; sanctuary, stalls, and high altar 1881-83 (Free Press [Ottawa], 23 Dec. 1880, 4, descrip.; M. MacRae & A. Adamson, Hallowed Walls, 1975, 245, 247, illus.; L. Noppen, 103)
SISTERS OF CHARITY MOTHER HOUSE, Sussex Street at Cathcart Street, addition of the Grey Nuns Chapel to link St. Patrick's Orphanage to the Convent, 1883-85; burned 1903 (Ottawa Daily Citizen, 26 March 1885, 3, descrip.; Catholic Record [London], 2 July 1887, 1, descrip.)
ST. JEAN BAPTISTE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, Empress Avenue, interior decor, 1885-86; burned 1931 (L. Noppen, 104)
NOTRE DAME DE LOURDES ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, Montreal Road, begun 1886-87; completed 1913; burned 1973 (L. Noppen, 104)
OUR LADY OF THE SACRED HEART ROMAN CATHOLIC CONVENT, Waller Street at Besserer Street, chapel for the convent, 1887-88; chapel dismantled 1972 and rebuilt inside the National Gallery of Canada, 1987-88 ( M. MacRae & A. Adamson, Hallowed Walls, 1975, 247-8, illus.; L. Noppen, 1988, 33-60, illus. & descrip.)
OTTAWA GENERAL HOSPITAL, Water Street, a 4 storey addition "...to the east of the present building", 1896-97 (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 6 Nov. 1896, 3, descrip.; 25 Sept. 1897, 9, descrip.)
DOMINICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CONVENT, Empress Avenue, adjoining St. Jean Baptiste Roman Catholic Church, 1899; burned 1931 (C.R., x, 30 Aug. 1899, 2; xi, 21 March 1900, 3)

ELSEWHERE

HULL, QUE., interior decor of Notre-Dame-de-Grace Roman Catholic Church, 1872 (L. Noppen, 103)
GATINEAU, QUE., rectory for the Roman Catholic Church, 1880-81; addition of nave and facade to St.-Francois-de-Sales Roman Catholic Church, 1886-87; interior decor of the church, with new sacristy, 1902-03 (L. Noppen, 103-05)
PAPINEAUVILLE, QUE., rectory for the Roman Catholic Church, 1882 (L. Noppen, 103)
ALMONTE, ONT., plan for the cemetery, 1884 (L. Noppen, 104)
LUSKVILLE, ONT., St. Dominique Roman Catholic Church, 1884-85 (l. Noppen, 104)
SOUTH MARCH, ONT., St. Isidore Roman Catholic Church, 1887-88 (L. Noppen, 104)
GOWER POINT, ONT., Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel Roman Catholic Church, 1887-88 (L. Noppen, 104)
BUCKINGHAM, QUE., St. Gregoire Roman Catholic Church, 1887-90; burned 1904 (L. Noppen, 103; Andrew Waldron, Exploring the Capital: An Architectural Guide to the Ottawa-Gatineau Region, 2017, 246-7, illus. & descrip.)
SARSFIELD, ONT., rectory for the Roman Catholic church, 1887-88 (L. Noppen, 104)
WENDOVER, ONT., rectory for the Roman Catholic church, 1888 (L. Noppen, 105)
LEWISTON, MAINE, USA, Roman Catholic Church, 1889-90 (Ottawa Free Press, 19 Nov. 1889, 4)
LEVIS, QUE., chapel at the Roman Catholic College, St. Joseph Street, 1895-99 (Le Soleil[Quebec City], 11 Nov. 1899, 11; 23 March 1900, 8; L. Noppen, 105)
BIC, QUE., interior decor of the Roman Catholic church, 1899-1900 (Evening Citizen [Ottawa], 25 April 1899, 1; L. Noppen, 105)
RIMOUSKI, QUE., initial plans for enlargement of the Roman Catholic Cathedral and a residence for the Bishop, 1901-03; plans later altered by Joseph J.B. Verret (Evening Journal [Ottawa], 22 April 1901, 6; C.R., xii, 1 May 1901, 2; L. Noppen, 105)
POINTE GATINEAU, QUE., interior decor for the Roman Catholic church, 1901-02 (L. Noppen, 105)
TROIS PISTOLES, QUE., interior decor for the Roman Catholic church, 1901-02 (L. Noppen, 105)
FALL RIVER, MASS., USA, interior decor and altar for Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church, 1902 (L. Noppen, 105)
RIMOUSKI, QUE., Notre-Dame-du-Saint-Rosaire Roman Catholic Convent, 1904 (L. Noppen, 105)
AYLMER, QUE., reconstruction after a fire of St. Paul Roman Catholic Church and interior decor, 1905-08 (L. Noppen, 106)
NOMININGUE, QUE., Roman Catholic college, 1911 (La Presse [Montreal], 13 May 1911, 35, illus.)
ST. MOISE, QUE., Roman Catholic church, 1914-15 (L. Noppen, 106)