Joseph-Marcelin Wilson, a generous donor
In the early 1900’s an association connected with the Canadian High Commission (similar to a consulate) developed the idea of constructing a house to host Canadian students studying in Paris. The Canadian Commissioner General, Philippe Roy was taken with the idea but plans were interrupted by the First World War and further progress put on hold until the project for the Cité universitaire was launched in 1919. Joseph-Marcelin Wilson, senator from Montreal, donated three-quarters of the funds necessary to construct the house. Since its doors opened in 1926, it has remained a private institution governed in part by the Wilson’s descendants.
A more spacious, more comfortable building
Two architects, Frenchman Emile Thomas and Canadian Georges Vanier, designed the refined, elegant building. It originally included only the central building that runs along Boulevard Jourdan, but it was renovated and extended on several different occasions. In 1968, two wings were added on; in 1984, the common areas were renovated; and in 2005, the house was improved to meet modern building standards, the front restored, the interior renovated and additional rooms were added. Today, the house comprises 153 rooms, compared with a mere 47 originally.
Did you know?
The House of Canadian Students wears its national colours proudly; inside the building visitors can see the beautiful mosaic of a beaver and a maple leaf, both national symbols.