The Hemitage/L'Ermitage

Ermitage. Hall located in a Collège de Montréal building at the corner of Côte-des-Neiges and Docteur-Penfield Ave. Built by architect Joseph Alfred-Hector Lapierre (1859-1932) between 1911 and 1913 to provide needed space for the college, it was first used for student productions and recreation. In 1914, a passageway was constructed to allow easy access in bad weather to the main pavilion of the college. The interior was refurbished in 1941-2 by the Messieurs de St-Sulpice, the owners of the building, to become a gymnasium and theatre. About 600 permanent seats were installed in the orchestra and semicircular balcony, and the stage was enlarged. Originally named the Pavillon des loisirs (Recreation Pavilion), the building was re-named L'Ermitage (The Hermitage) because of its rather isolated location.

The building, the in "Beaux-arts" style, was divided into two parts: the west side for recreation; the east side for education and performances. During the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, l'Ermitage was an important centre for music as well as a venue for plays and exhibitions. The hall, with its remarkable acoustics, was the home 1942-52 of the Little Symphony of Montreal. Wilfrid Pelletier conducted the unusual staged performances of the St Matthew Passion in the Easter-season of 1943 and 1944, and Elisabeth Schumann gave a memorable recital there in 1949. The hall was used by other groups including the McGill String Quartet, Alexander Brott's McGill Chamber Orchestra, the Society of Canadian Music, and the Montreal String Quartet.

The CBC began using the hall for live-audience programs, in particular 1944-53 "Radio-Carabin," and 1947-55 the talent competition "Nos Futures Étoiles." Public use of the hall declined and eventually ceased after the CBC obtained a contract (1947-67) guaranteeing priority. In 1967, the hall reverted to the Collège de Montréal for use by its students.

In the 1990s, a committee that included well-known members of the artistic community such as Maureen Forrester and Gilles Lefebvre, was formed with the goal of restoring and preserving the hall's cultural vocation, and the building was since named a heritage property. In 1994, it became the property of the Corporation du Collège de Montréal.

In 2005, extensive renovations began, to include an arts pavilion, rehearsal space, a concert hall and a gymnasium. Phase I of this project, that focussed on interior repairs, was realised in 2007. In November 2011, a gala event was held to celebrate l'Ermitage's 100th anniversary and raise funds for important exterior renovations to the roof and windows. Among the guests were honorary co-chairs architect Phyllis Lambert, business leader L. Jacques Ménard, and pianist-composer Alain Lefèvre who arranged performances by Quebec artists Michel Donato, André Moisan, Marc Labrèche, Paul Brochu, Sophie Desmarais and Chrystine Brouillet.