Behind the scenes of heritage buildings

Specializing in the restoration and renovation of heritage buildings, Ateliers Dubois reveals behind the scenes of the restoration of a luxury hotel in Old Quebec.

By Estelle Lévêque

A stone’s throw from Château Frontenac, at the corner of Avenue Sainte-Geneviève, the Maison du Fort is discreet. However, the hotel built in 1851 holds several details revealing the architectural heritage of the city. For several months, the teams from Ateliers Dubois and Hamel et Alain Inc. have been renovating the luxury hotel.

Established in Saint-Sauveur since 2014, Ateliers Dubois specialize in the restoration and renovation of heritage buildings in Quebec City. From the Hôtel du Parlement to the vaults of the Citadel, Jason Dubois and his team help to ensure that these historic places in the capital endure over time.

The Maison du Fort hotel, at 21, avenue Sainte-Geneviève, in Old Quebec. (Photo credit: Estelle Lévêque)

Ancestral techniques and today’s needs

“Whether they are in good or bad condition, these buildings are all jewels of the city,” says Jason Dubois, upstairs at the Maison du Fort hotel. Dating back more than 150 years, the building has characteristics specific to its era. Also, for the renovation company, this type of project involves several challenges.

“Working on heritage buildings has nothing to do with a classic building or house. […] It is essential to keep many visible structures, stone walls, architectural elements of the place. Many structural elements become, over time, architectural elements. This greatly complicates the mechanics of the building. »

Jason Dubois, founder of the company Ateliers Dubois

Thus, workers use a mixture of ancestral and modern techniques. On the top floor of the building, wooden nails dating from the creation of the hotel are found in one of the beams. “Obviously, we leave them there to display them,” explains Mr. Dubois. “But today we cannot rely only on these nails. So we combine new construction methods with period elements. » As for the bathrooms, contemporary ceramics and plumbing rub shoulders with period masonry walls.

The art of concealing

In order to preserve the character of the heritage building, construction teams must master the art of concealment. Indeed, the luxurious character of the hotel implies finding all the amenities of modern life. However, these must be hidden in a space which was not imagined for, in its beginnings.

In addition, teams must keep in mind the strict heritage standards of Old Quebec. “We must respect all requests from the municipality during renovations. For example, no one can come in and replace cremone windows with PVC sash windows,” explains the professional.

In the event that certain elements, which are too damaged, cannot be preserved, they will be redone identically, by professionals in the field or internally. Cabinetmakers, joiners, carpenters; There are many tradespeople on the Ateliers Dubois construction sites. “Find carpenters who want [travailler sur un chantier comme celui-ci], it is sometimes complex. You have to find professionals who really love their job to restore a building like that,” says Jason Dubois.

Currently under construction, the Maison du Fort hotel should take on its new appearance by the end of 2024. To follow the future projects of Ateliers Dubois, consult the following link.

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