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October 17, 2022

Remembering An Exemplary Architect: Étienne Gaboury

On Friday, October 14th, 2022, the renowned Franco-Manitoban architect, Étienne Gaboury, passed away at age 92. An innovative and prolific artist at heart, Gaboury gave prairie architecture a distinctive identity that earned him great accolades. As many of his works have aged gracefully into beautiful heritage buildings, the memory Gaboury will live on through his splendid contributions to our province, standing tall for future generations to learn from and admire.

Gaboury was born on a farm near Bruxelles, Manitoba – the youngest of 11 children. After graduating from College St. Boniface in 1953 with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Manitoba in 1958, he traveled to Europe to explore and attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Upon returning to Manitoba two years later, Gaboury quickly established himself as an outstanding young architect, winning a gold medal at the Massey Awards for Architecture for the design of the chapel of St. Louis le Roi at 610 Rue Laflèche. It was the start of an illustrious career specializing in religious structures and defining the landscape of Manitoba.

Gaboury’s approach to design was greatly influenced by French architect Le Corbusier’s Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp. Its minimal aesthetic, sweeping roof line and uplifting character was infused into many of Gaboury’s designs, which were an “emotional force”, responding to the specific context and fearlessly cutting-edge. Gaboury would go on to design many iconic buildings throughout Manitoba and the world, with his designs being found as far away as Côte d’Ivoire. Having won many awards and decorations, including the Order of Canada in 2010, in Winnipeg he will always be best known for the distinctive 1968 Église Précieux-Sang at 200 Kenny Street.

Heritage Winnipeg extends our heartfelt condolences to Gaboury’s family and friends, he was a wonderful person that will be missed by the many whose lives he touched through his outstanding art.

Architect Étienne Gaboury poses in front of Precious Blood Roman Catholic Church. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Feature image: Église Précieux-Sang at 200 Kenny Street in December 2020 from bernard poirier (CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons).

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