Hi Frugalistas! Hidden in a quiet corner of central Quebec City is a quintessentially English building, with a quintessentially English library. The Morrin Centre was originally a jail, then a College, before finally becoming the only English library in Quebec City. I loved looking around this little corner of England right in the tres francais Quebec City.
Origins of the English library in Quebec City
The story of the Morrin Centre is steeped in English heritage. While designed by the Francophone architect, Francois Baillairge, the building itself is one of the first examples of the English Classicism architectural style in Quebec. It was built as the original Quebec City gaol between 1806 and 1814 before being sold to Dr Joseph Morrin in 1861. Morrin re-purposed the building as an Anglophone College, until it was converted to an English Language and Cultural Centre in the early 20th Century.
Visiting the English library in Quebec City
Enter the front door, then head up the stair case on your right to the library.
Then you enter a little piece of Victorian England. English style antique furniture and row after row after row of English books. While you must become a member of the Morrin Centre to borrow books from the library, you are free to linger as long as like. Browse, make your choice, and settle into a comfy cha
The second library room at the back features a section of valuable antiquarian books (in both English and French). Children aren’t forgotten either, with a large section of children’s books for both beginning and advanced readers.
But the Morrin Centre is not just about the books. The Victorian architectural detail (complete with wooden spiral stair case) and artifacts definitely makes you feel like you are visiting an English Gentleman’s library in a stately home.
To complete your total English experience, the library offers a traditional English afternoon tea on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Enjoy a talk about tea and the traditions of the English afternoon tea. Then tuck into afternoon tea itself in true Victorian style and etiquette. Yum!
If you are on a walking tour of Quebec City, the Morrin Centre makes a convenient place for a comfort stop. Even the Ladies’ Washroom (on the ground floor to the left of the entry) picks up the English flavour, with a magnificent display of antique English china.
The Morrin Centre is at 44 Chaussee des Ecossais (which is somewhat ironic, as it means the Scottish Carriageway in French) just off Rue St Anne in Old Quebec.
The Morrin Centre is closed on Mondays. It opens at 12pm, but closing times depend on the day of the week, so if you are planning a visit, do check their website for closing times. It is free to look around the library.
Afternoon tea is served Friday to Sunday from mid June to early September. It is $12 for adults ($10 for students and $6 for children under 10 years. The tea is bilingual, and bookings are recommended. At $12 I think an afternoon tea at the Morrin Centre library would make a wonderful frugal first class travel experience. I wish I had had the chance to try it! (but wait till you see what I did instead!)
Author’s note: I was a guest of Quebec Tourisme in Quebec City.