An inn built by and still maintained by the Couillard family
In the early 1600s, the Auberge Place d’Armes was built by Guillaume Couillard, one of the first French settlers. In 1621 he married Guillemette Hébert, the daughter of Louis Hébert, the first setter in New France. In fact, several heritage buildings have been built on land that was owned by Guillaume Couillard.
In 2003, Marc-Antoine Doré, a direct descendant of Guillaume Couillard, took over his ancestor’s building and the Couillard-Doré family completely renovated the property, taking care to respect the original work completed four centuries earlier. Staying at the Auberge Place d’Armes is journey back in time, the coming together of an ancestral building and the family that erected it.
A crossroads of influences, like Old Quebec
The Auberge Place d'Armes is divided into two sections: the French side and the English side. Both styles are easily distinguishable. The French style is reflected in century-old stones and exposed beams, while the English style, inspired by George Richard Renfrew, focuses on brick and woodwork.
French side: Wax Museum
The French section, adjacent to the rue du Trésor, was built by Martin Boutet, who arrived in New France in 1640. The house was considered one of the most beautiful of its time. The building has housed a series of influential people who have made their mark on local history: Anne Gasnier, Charles Berthelot, and Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau, to name a few.
Starting in 1947, the French building housed a wax museum that presented, among others, prominent figures from New France and Quebec. In 2006, the museum, after 60 years of existence, closed its doors and in 2007, the Couillard-Doré family decided to expand the Auberge Place d’Armes into the space previously occupied by the wax museum. The most coveted wax statues, those of Champlain, Montcalm, Wolfe, Émile Nelligan and René Lévesque, were donated to the Museum of Civilisation where they are still on display.
English side: Renfrew side
The current building, on the English side, dates from 1853. It was designed by the English architect Edward Stavely, whose work was particularly appreciated by wealthy landowners.
Renfrew acquired this noble building down the block from his fur and hat business, Holt Renfrew. He even built-in a direct passageway from the house to his business. After having lived there for several years, Mr. Renfrew put the house up for rent. It was a rooming house from 1929 to 1957, and then converted to a hotel.
Guillaume Couillard is one of the first settlers of New France, arriving shortly after its foundation in 1608. Along with notable personality Louis-Hébert, Couillard was among the first settlers to have is house located in the upper-town of Old Quebec, currently the site of the Auberge Place d’Armes. The hotel owners – the Couillard-Doré family – are direct descendants of Guillaume Couillard.
Samuel de Champlain
Samuel de Champlain is the founder of Quebec City. Experienced explorer, he was one of the first to accurately map large areas of North America. A man of compromise, he made allies of the natives of the St. Lawrence Valley. At a time when Native Americans were often perceived as subhuman, Samuel de Champlain treated them with respect and friendship.
George Richard Renfrew
In 1852, George Richard Renfrew teamed up with a Montreal businessman to create stores that eventually became Holt Renfrew. He lived in the English section of Auberge Place d'Armes from 1875 until the end of the 1800s. Since his shop was on Buade Street, he had a passage built from the Auberge to Buade Street.
Following the death of her husband in France, Anne Gasnier left for New France in 1649. For many years she took care of the poorest people in her adopted land, even assuring them of a decent burial. In the 1660s, Mrs. Gasnier became the woman behind the ‘’Daughters of the King’’ project, which encouraged young women to emigrate to New France and start a family in exchange for a dowry and travel expenses paid by the Crown. Anne Gasnier contributed to the arrival of hundreds of young women in Quebec and, thus, to the expansion of the colony.