In 1954, the miraculous statue of Our Lady of the Cape in the historic shrine at Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, was adorned with a crown fabricated by master goldsmith, Gilles Beaugrand. Donated through the offerings of pilgrims, the solid 18-karat gold and platinum crown was set with 565 diamonds. (The Gilles Beaugrand Studio is a division of Desmarais & Robitaille.)
When demand for plaster statues dropped significantly in the 1960s, Desmarais & Robitaille was forced to close its once thriving hand-decorated religious statuary studio. Hundreds of old plaster molds were unceremoniously dumped into the nearby St. Lawrence River, and used as landfill for the building site of Expo 67, Montreal’s World Fair. André Robitaille (at that time president of the company) jokingly remarked that “the success of Expo 67 is built on Desmarais & Robitaille’s statues!”
Two Popes have been presented with chalices crafted by goldsmith Gilles Beaugrand. A solid sterling silver chalice set with onyx stones was created as a gift for Pope Pius XII in 1949, on the occasion of his 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. In the 1980s, The Sulpician Fathers of Montreal commissioned our Beaugrand Studio to design and fabricate an enameled silver chalice to be presented to Pope John-Paul II.
During the Second World War, Desmarais & Robitaille made a unique contribution to the war effort. Our statuary studios produced special plaster molds which were used to create the innovative rubber fuel tanks used in the famous Spitfire fighter-bomber aircraft.
The three major shrines of Quebec, destinations of thousands of pilgrims each year, have all commissionied special works by our Gilles Beaugrand Silver Studio.
- An enormous tabernacle was designed for St. Joseph’s Oratory, the spectacular shrine situated on the side of Montreal’s Mount Royal.
- At Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré, an eight-foot high hanging sanctuary lamp was fabricated to complement the rich decoration of the basilica’s romanesque interior.
- For the miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary at the shrine of Our Lady of the Cape, Beaugrand created a crown out of solid gold, platinum and hundreds of diamonds.