103, rue Dalhousie
Canada G1K 4B9 (Map)
Tel. : (418) 692-5323
Fax : (418) 692-2390
The land on which La Caserne stands has long been a gathering place. As early as 1828, it was home to the Québec City’s very first stock exchange, simply called “the Québec Exchange”, and built on land that was already claimed from the St Lawrence River.
In the early 20th Century, firehouse #5 was built on the ruins of the stock exchange, which had recently moved to Montréal. The new building, which had no foundations, rested on wooden beams driven into the ground, allowing it to avoid the pressure caused by infiltration of water from the River.
Architect Georges-Émile Tanguay (who also built Québec’s City Hall) created a spectacular “Second Empire” façade, flanked by a high tower whose only function was to hang the fire hoses for drying. Inside were the firemen’s sleeping quarters, stables and enough room for four horse drawn tank trucks.
In the early 80s, firehouse #5 was left in a state of abandonment. After a few years, the building had begun to sink in the soft ground thrown over the river waters 150 years before. Preliminary structural work allowed the damage to be contained.
In 1993, the City of Québec offered Ex Machina the possibility of turning the place into an artistic production centre. With the help of contractor Lauréat Pépin, engineer Louis Larouche and stage design specialist Michel Gosselin, architects Jacques Plante and Marc Julien were in charge of transforming the building and adding a modern touch to George-Émile Tanguay’s exhaustively restored design.
La Caserne was inaugurated on June 2nd 1997, after 17 months of renovations and transformations.