Could this tiny Quebec town become a tourist destination?
Published Tuesday, March 12, 2013 9:04AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 12, 2013 10:40PM EDT
As Catholics across Canada pay close attention to Rome, where 115 cardinals locked in the Sistine Chapel will soon elect a new Pope, nowhere is there a more personal connection than La Motte, Que.
The tiny town of just 439 residents is the hometown of Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, considered to be one of the frontrunners for the papacy.
Located 600 kilometres northwest of Montreal, La Motte doesn’t have a single restaurant or hotel room. But if Ouellet were to become pope, making him the world’s most powerful religious leader, the town could quickly turn into an international pilgrimage destination.
The church where Ouellet was baptized and became ordained has been revamped into a media centre with a makeshift restaurant in the basement serving food to hungry reporters who have descended on the town.
St-Luc church, built with the help of Ouellet's father and grandfathers, is now a municipal community centre.
The town bought the 75-year-old church for $1 a few years ago, after the dwindling parish could no longer afford to maintain the building.
Mass is still held there every second Sunday.
The church, along with a school, corner store and a municipal office are the few buildings operating in the town. However, the municipality and the regional tourism board have already conjured up ideas to boost tourism.
La Motte’s mayor said possible plans include developing part of the community centre into a museum that would charge entry fees and sell souvenirs.
“Everything is on the table, everything is possible,” Rene Martineau told The Canadian Press.
“Everyone is proud to have a native Lamottois who might become pope. There aren’t many popes in the world — there’s only one.”
Martineau said another idea is to erect plaques in areas related to Ouellet’s childhood, including his childhood home and a skating rink where he used to play hockey.
The home where Ouellet grew up with his five brothers and two sisters has been torn down and is now a farmer’s field.
With a report from CTV’s Genevieve Beauchemin