PASSION & HISTOIRE BLOG – My visit with Gabrielle Roy

Kenza Zaoui - Translated by Thea Wortley

Saint-Boniface and Deschambault Street have surely changed since a young Gabrielle Roy looked out at the landscape from her window in the attic almost a century ago. 

At the time, there were only three houses on Deschambault, no industrial buildings, no parking lots.  Gabrielle Roy’s father, Léon Roy, had his garden alongside the road and would retrieve water from the Seine River.  The path named after her was a “forest” to Gabrielle Roy.

And as such, the House of Gabrielle Roy is the perfect contrast between past and present. Built in 1905, this structure has had a varied history:  family home, apartments, it was sold numerous times until a committee decided in 1997 to restore it to tell its story.  The House opened its doors to the public in 2003.

Inside, you’ll find identical reproductions, a shop, and an abundance of information on the author.  The House of Gabrielle Roy website has also offered a virtual visit since the start of 2020. The details are captivating and the anecdotes well told.

The House comes to life.  Multiple events are organized in the basement or online and the journey of Gabrielle Roy is recalled in Tourisme Riel’s culinary tours, showing the writer’s path in Saint-Boniface and elsewhere.  Gabrielle Roy’s impact crosses borders:  her books have been translated in 20 languages.

In 2019, the House of Gabrielle Roy was paired with the house of the author Colette, in Saint-Sauveur, Puisaye in the French region of Bourgogne.  A library regrouping the works of the two writers will be available as of October 15 and an exhibition in Winnipeg will retrace the common points in their lives.

The House of Gabrielle Roy is situated at 375 rue Deschambault Street in Saint-Boniface.  In October, it is open Wednesday to Saturday, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.