Cyclorama crumbles under the bills and demands of Quebec

The owner and president of the Cyclorama de Jerusalem, in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, has been drowning in bills and requests from the Quebec government since the heritage classification of the Single Round Hall that literally threatens to collapse.

The last piece that fell (figuratively speaking) on ​​Louis Ploen’s head arrived on Wednesday, when the record came to give him official notice from the Department of Justice accusing him of violating the Cultural Heritage Act by “rejecting, neglecting or not taking all necessary measures” to preserve the cichlorama.

“It’s not true that I would look like someone who doesn’t take care of heritage. It’s not true that Blouin will pass by a family of loafers!” The 63-year-old gets angry when he meets duty In the rotating hall, whose condition betrays the passage of years. He himself has been working at Cyclorama since he was 11 years old. “Plumber, electrician, accountant, administrator, translator”: He has accumulated all the positions in this company and today he only asks one thing: retirement.

Quebec will act if the official notice is not respected. “The Minister intends to take all means permitted by law, including a restoration order under Article 195, in order to ensure that the value of Cyclorama’s heritage is preserved,” he wrote to Task Louis Julian Duferson, Press Attaché to Minister for Culture and Communication Nathalie Roy (MCCQ).

This order, which is required of the Supreme Court, dictates the completion of work that is considered urgent. Quebec can then pay for the roof reinforcement and other structural interventions. The state would become a creditor and this debt could be paid (minus its statutory share of 40%), for example, when selling the building, if needed.

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In 2019, the government of Quebec formalized Cyclorama’s designation as a heritage asset. Two years earlier, the Blouin family offered this unique circular building for sale for 5 million. The owners of Cyclorama planned to sell the rotunda and the giant works that contained it separately. The 110-meter-tall panorama, representing the Crucifixion, arrived in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in 1895. The Blouin family acquired it in 1957, and closed the door to Cyclorama in 2018.

However, according to its owner, the heritage classification has undermined the chances of it being sold someday, especially because the canvas and the building can no longer be separated or moved. Early in 2018, the Blouin family’s real estate agent, Martin Dusty, made the same remark. “What is deferred, the problem, is the fact that the product has to stay in Quebec, in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. [en raison de l’avis de classement], L. said Task.

“You will see that fall.”

So things stagnated for months. But the bills build up and the water seeps into the cichlorama’s structure. Indoors, walls and floors are warped, affected by humidity. At the souvenir shop, dust accumulates on Saint Anne statues. Polyurethane panels, miraculously even now, protect the fresco in the rotunda.

Louis Ploen’s brother recently sold a defrosting tractor to pay for the repair of a collapsing keel. The cost of the work is $ 58,000. Since then, a second ray has bent under the weight of the hull. It barely holds up. “If we had a winter like the last two years, you’d see that autumn,” warns Mr. Blouin.

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In an official notice, Quebec summons the owners to reinforce the roof frame and carry out work on its structure, otherwise it will take “all the legal measures permitted by law.” In an email message sent to Task“The current owners,” the ministry contact team wrote [devaient] Take the necessary measures to ensure the preservation of the heritage value and the distinctive elements of the character of the Jerusalem Cyclurama and its panorama, even if they are not open to the public.

The Press Secretary to the Minister of Culture, Mr Dufresne, adds in his private e-mail, that MCCQ “has repeatedly reminded the company that has building its obligations under the law”; Indicated which work will be prioritized; And he stressed “the financial support available for such interventions.”

“I don’t have more money”

With the ministerial report in his hands, Louis Ploen shrugged his shoulders. He said, “I don’t have more money.” In his opinion, the required work will cost, at least, 140 thousand dollars. Even if Quebec pays 40% of the bill – under the capital assistance program – it will not be enough, he adds. Since 2019, he says he no longer has the means to pay municipal taxes. Mr Blouin is in default of $ 52,946.53, confirming the City of Sainte-Anne de Popper.

Over the years, the president of Cyclorama has intensified his efforts with the city, the Board of the Red Cross, the Ministry of Culture and its deputy, Emily Foster, to break the impasse. He says that he asked to meet the latter, but that he had to content himself with telephone correspondence with the political attachés.

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Early in 2017, he had informed Quebec of his financial inability to keep Cyclorama. In an email he sent to the ministry and MP Foster in September 2020, he indicated that “a company that has not had an income for more than two years is unable to meet the ministry’s preservation and maintenance standards.”

Frustrated, tired, sleep-deprived, Mr. Plowen says he’s out of options. “What do you plan to do next?” Put a lock on my house? Handcuffed? “He asked. Next to her, her son Justin looks frustrated.” Even I would have to make sure not to inherit [du Cyclorama] “, Drops.

The oldest place of pilgrimage in North America

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