Étienne Gaboury

Étienne Gaboury La Liberté Fonds - SHSB 42537

Étienne Gaboury was born on April 24, 1930 near Bruxelles, Manitoba. The youngest of eleven children, he left the family farm in 1949 to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Latin Philosophy from the University of Manitoba. 

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris "Le Corbusier" (1887-1965)

His degree completed, Gaboury went on to study at the university’s Faculty of Architecture where he received a Bachelor of Architecture in 1958 as well as a bursary from the Government of France to study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He spent a year in France, studying architecture and discovering the works of the architect Le Corbusier whose modernist style would have a profound impact on Gaboury’s work.

Upon his return to Manitoba, Gaboury began working on what would become a diverse set of over 300 projects throughout Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and abroad, including Mexico, the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Among his most recognized projects are the Precious-Blood Church, the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg, the reconstruction of the Saint-Boniface Cathedral following the 1968 fire, and the Esplanade Riel. Throughout his career, Gaboury designed and worked on churches, schools, federal, provincial and municipal government buildings, private residences, senior homes, apartments, health clinics, convents, universities, monuments, stained glass installations, businesses, administrative offices, friendship centres, community centres, embassies, historical sites, banks, libraries, parks, performance centres, hotels, restaurants and interpretive centres. Nelson House School - SHSB 58942

His works are recognized by their functional design and the way they integrate and play with light and their surroundings. For instance, many of his designs use skylights to promote natural lighting during all four seasons. His buildings are further oriented in a way that maximizes sun and heat exposure while minimizing wind exposure. While designing his Manitoba-based projects, Gaboury further studied the prairie environment – its vast and flat surfaces and its low winter sun to name a few factors considered. In fact, many of his buildings, such as the Royal Canadian Mint stand tall to create a dramatic contrast with their surroundings.

Sketch - Royal of Canada, Winnipeg - 0488/2467/587/croquis

Moreover, Gaboury considered both history and culture in his designs. For example, his restoration of the Saint-Boniface Cathedral incorporated its ruins to preserve the building’s history and connect its past to the new structure. The school in Nelson House, with its totem pole and Sun Dance lodge, incorporates the local culture so that the building could become a focal site, as well as a gathering place and a point of pride for the community. Furthermore, Gaboury was inspired by the Métis culture and traditional First Nations ceremonies when he designed the tipi-shaped roof for the Precious-Blood Church and designed its floor plan which encouraged clockwise circulation.

Precious Blood Church

Gaboury’s career has been marked by numerous distinctions. He has won the Massey Award, multiple awards from the Manitoba Association of Architects, many Canadian Architect Year Book Significant Building Awards, an award from the Canadian Housing Council, a Heritage Canada award, a prize from the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, a Special Achievement Award from the International Downtown Association, an International Waterfront Centre Award of Excellence, Heritage Winnipeg Awards, an award from the Saskatchewan Masonry Council, an award from the American Institute of Architects, a Program Excellence Award for citizen involvement from the International City/Country Management Association, awards from the Consulting Engineers of Manitoba, a Keystone Award, and an Arthur Hayden Outstanding Achievement Award. Many of his works were also recognized as some of the most important buildings in Canada by Canadian Architect and Award Magazine and were further recognized as provincial and municipal heritage sites in Manitoba and Winnipeg respectively.

Étienne Gaboury donated his archival documents to the Société historique de Saint-Boniface. They include textual records, photographs, plans, drawings, and presentation panels. A selection of these documents were digitized and are available on the Web, providing a glimpse of his career as an architect.

Foyer Chez-Nous - 0488/7005/P279/A-1


Thanks to the generous support of Library and Archives Canada, the digitization project of selected documents illustrating Étienne Gaboury's career was completed on March 31st 2016. The Library and Archives Canada funding was made possible thanks to the Documentary Heritage Communities Programme.

GABOURY, Étienne, Étienne Gaboury, Saint-Boniface (Manitoba), Éditions du Blé, 2005, 231 p.

MORCOS, Gamila, Dictionnaire des artistes et des auteurs francophones de l’Ouest canadien, Laval (QC), Les presses de l’Université Laval, 1998, 366 p.


« The Prairies: Church of the Precious Blood, St. Boniface, » Architectural Review (May 1980): 317.  


Centre du patrimoine, 340, boulevard Provencher, Saint-Boniface, (Manitoba) R2H 0G7 - T(204) 233-4888 ©2010 - Société historique de Saint-Boniface
Here is the photo of the Centre du patrimoine on Google Maps