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Peter Black

Local Journalism Initiative reporter


La Maison Pollack, once home to Maurice Pollack, a Jewish immigrant from the Ukraine who later became a successful merchant and renowned philanthropist, will be restored and become the Maison de la Diversité, under a plan announced recently by Mayor Régis Labeaume.

The house with the distinctive columns at 1 Grande Allée Est (corner of Avenue Briand), built in 1910, had fallen into an advanced state of disrepair in recent years during a prolonged dispute with a promoter. The city finally acquired the property and took possession in late April.

The mayor revealed the future vocation of the house at a May 16 news conference to lay out the city’s projects to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion. A budget of $10.5 million over three years will be dedicated to a variety of projects, the most significant one being the $3 million allotted to transform the Maison Pollack.

According to a city news release, the house would become a “permanent place for gathering, sharing and learning about cultures. Citizens will be able to meet there, share their culinary knowledge and see performances.”

The city will spend $120,000 for immediate action to preserve the property. In recent days, windows had been boarded up, the rear of the property cleaned up and the large trees in front pruned.

The city says it will be calling for tenders for the restoration of the home.

Merchant James McCarthy commissioned famed architect René-Pamphile LeMay to design the house in the neo-baroque style. An annex, in the same style, which served as a ballroom, was added in 1917.

Maurice Pollack and family lived in the house from 1930 until 1948. Pollack subsequently sold it to the federal government for use as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment. The building’s three-storey interior was transformed into offices. The RCMP moved out in the 1970s and the building became a rooming house.

Examples of Pollack’s philanthropic legacy in Quebec City can be found at Quebec High School’s Pollack Pavillion and Université Laval’s student centre.

For more information on the life of Maurice Pollack, see Les Juifs de Québec by Pierre Anctil and Simon Jacobs.

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Photo courtesy Fondation Maurice-Pollack

La Maison Pollack is shown in its heyday. This photo was taken on the occasion of the wedding of Maurice Pollack’s daughter Florence in 1944.

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