The plan to create an organization emerged from groups working for religious heritage conservation and enhancement.

Faced with the necessity of ensuring the protection of this heritage, a task seemingly too arduous for many communities of believers, these groups sought ways to ensure sufficient funding for the restoration of our religious heritage.

The Fondation du patrimoine religieux du Québec was created and, on October 19, 1995, an agreement was signed with the Minister of Culture and Communications, guaranteeing an initial government payment to the Fondation of $35 million, over five years, for the restoration of Québec’s religious heritage.

In 1983-1984, the Comité de construction et d'art sacré of the Diocèse de Montréal obtained from the Canadian Government an amount of $15 million for the restoration of 115 Catholic churches.

In 1992, the first contacts were established with the Government of Canada with a view to multiconfessional action. The same year, representatives of the Comité de construction et d'art sacré met with diocesan bursars, gathered at a meeting in Québec City, to promote joint action in favour of our religious heritage.

In 1993, following a meeting of representatives of the various traditions, the association Héritage Vivant was created. This organization, bringing together representatives of all traditions owning religious heritage in the Montréal area, would become known as the interconfessional association Pierres vivantes/Living Stones.

In 1994, a study presented an inventory of work needing to be carried out on 42 Catholic churches, five Anglican churches, three United churches and three synagogues in Montréal, requiring a $75 million investment.

That same year, association representatives met with the Québec finance minister to examine the possibility of obtaining government financing for religious heritage preservation in the Montréal area.

Lastly, in 1995, Pierre vivantes submitted to the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec a partnership project to ensure financing for religious heritage restoration and enhancement throughout Québec.

In 2001, a review of the program’s 1995-2001 accomplishments was conducted, and the program management agreement was extended.

In 2003, the Inventaire des lieux de culte du Québec began. Phase 1 of the inventory led to the tally of 2751 open or recently closed places of worship belonging to all religious communities and traditions. This inventory included parish churches, non-Catholic places of worship other than Catholic, conventual chapels, oratories, sanctuaries and pilgrimage sites constructed before 1975.

In 2004, Phase 2 of the inventory of Québec places of worship dealt with the heritage evaluation and regional classification of some l600 places of worship inventoried in Phase 1 and erected prior to 1945. The information on the Inventaire des lieux de culte du Québec is available on the Fondation Web site.

In 2005, the Fondation organized, in cooperation with the Conseil du patrimoine de Montréal, the Canada urban heritage research chair of the UQAM and Concordia University, an international seminar on the future of churches. This meeting aimed to identify concrete solutions and ways to implement those solutions, focusing on three major themes: ownership, use values, and urban planning.

In 2006, in cooperation with the Faculté de théologie et de sciences des religions of the Université de Montréal, the Fondation organized the seminar Le patrimoine religieux du Québec: Éducation et transmission du sens. Based on seven major themes, the seminar addressed the following issues: dissemination problems, multicultural aspects, enhancement and appropriation, the importance of Québec’s religious heritage in modern culture and, lastly, education.

In 2007
, the board of directors adopted a stragegic plan for 2007-2010 and, at the Annual General Meeting, the members resolved that the organization would thereafter be called the Conseil du patrimoine religieux du Québec.

In 2009, the CPRQ, in collaboration with the Canada Research Chair on Urban Heritage (ESG UQAM), Concordia University and the Institut du Patrimoine (UQAM), organized the conference Religious Houses: A Legacy (Montréal and Québec City, October 7 to 11). Built around three main themes, ownership, use and memory, this event aimed to identify and analyze innovative heritage solutions for the future of monasteries, abbeys and, more generally, religious houses, in Quebec and the rest of Canada as well as in Western countries.

To conclude the conference, the CPRQ partnered with Mission patrimoine Religieux (MPR) to organize the event Québec’s Religious Houses Open Their Doors! (October 11, 2009). The activity allowed more than 1,300 people to enjoy free guided tours of some twenty religious communities’s residences, located in all regions of Québec.