Voltigeurs offer public access for historic Armoury

scene de jour (Photo provided by Voltigeur's Foundation)-mod.jpg
Photo: Illustration courtesy of The Voltigeurs de Québec Foundation

The Voltigeurs Foundation proposal includes a $4.7-million outdoor stage looking out onto the Plains of Abraham.

The Voltigeurs de Québec Foundation is proposing to add a huge outdoor stage looking out onto the Plains of Abraham as part of the project it is advocating for the rebuilding of its former home in the Armoury, or Manège Militaire as it is known in French, on Grande Allée.

The foundation representing the Voltigeurs -- the oldest surviving French-Canadian regiment -- showed its plans publicly last Wednesday at a public consultation organized by the $2-million commission struck by the federal government to consider proposals for the rebuilding of the historic Quebec City landmark following a devastating fire on April 4 last year.

Archtecturally, the Votigeurs propose to rebuild the Armoury exactly as it was.

But it wants the space inside used differently.

Only one quarter of the space would be reserved for the Voltigeurs's use and administrative offices.

The Voltigeurs proposal envisions a large multi-functional room that could be used by the Quebec congress center, or for not-for-profit events.

It also wants to build a public museum that would pay homage to the Voltigeurs' history as well as that of the first French and English militia men who served on Canadian soil as far back in history as 1649. The Voltigeurs were founded in 1862 following an amalgamation of eight independent Volunteer Militia Rifle companies The Amoury itself was built in 1887 and later expanded in 1913.

Ninety per cent of the museum in the original building was saved by firemen. It was not previously open to the public.

"We just can't beleive our proposal won't be accepted," said Yvan Lachance, executive director and president of the Voltigeur foundation, made up of current and past members of the regiment. "We have followed all of the guidelines."

For a proposal to be considered by the advisory committee, it must adhere to certain guidelines, such as incorporating the Amoury's Château Style copper roof and front towers and the interior wooden ceiling.

Four other proposals for reconstruction of the Armoury were tabled at the hearings.

All reconstruction proposals must be submitted to the commission by June 15. Before the end of August, the commission will complete a feasibility study on the best projects. Those will be presented to Josée Verner, Canadian Heritage Minister.

The Voltigeurs hope she will make a decision in early fall, so that -- if the foundatioin proposal is accepted -- reconstruction could be complete in time for the regiment's 150th anniversary in 2012. Its project would cost $90-million and is projected to take 40 months to complete.

Anyone who wants to see the Voltigeurs project in detail and record personal comments, can visit www.manegemilitaire.org not only to see the mock-ups of their proposal, but also to show their support for the project and to comment on it.

All of the supporting comments will be amassed and presented to the commission before the June 15th deadline for project proposals.