Oka Abbey

Abbey of Notre-Dame du Lac (Oka, Quebec)

The Abbey of Notre-Dame du Lac (fr. Abbaye Notre-Dame du Lac), known as the Oka Abbey (fr. Abbaye Cistercienne d'Oka), is a Trappist Cistercian monastery located in Oka, Quebec. The main monastery building is of grey stone and is accompanied by a dozen outbuildings, all of which are situated on a 270 hectare property.

History

Following the seizure of the Cistercian Order's Abbaye de Bellefontaine in Bégrolles-en-Mauges, Maine-et-Loire, France by the army of the French Third Republic, in November of 1880 the Trappists members of the Order living at the Abbaye were expelled from the country. After receiving an invitation by Father Victor Rousselot of the Grand Seminary of the Sulpician Order in Montreal, Canada, eight Trappists' Monks emigrated to Quebec in April of 1881 to establish a new foundation. From their vast Quebec holdings, the Sulpician Order offered the Trappists a parcel of land at their property on the Lake of Two Mountains at Oka, Quebec. (Situated northwest of Montreal in the region of Deux-Montagnes). Naming the property La Trappe after Soligny-la-Trappe in France where the Order had been founded in 1662, the monks established the monastery. Within a few years, through an affiliation with the Université de Montréal, the monastery created an agricultural school under the name of Oka Agricultural Institute, and affiliated with the Université de Montréal. Along with this agricultural school, the Abbey supported itself by producing products such as Oka cheese and Port-Salut cheese.

At its peak, the monastery housed upwards of 200 monks, but by the early 21st century only 28 brothers (most of whom were over 70) remained. Today, the Abbey is no longer a working monastery, having been donated by the diminishing number of monks as a non-profit center to preserve the site's heritage.

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