The cathedral before and after the tragedy 2010 and 2019 (Reuters- Benoit Tessier, Charles Platiau)

 Notre Dame restoration, a Canadian stonemason comments


The damage to this great cathedral can be easily seen to be devastating and extensive.

The ancient oak beams supporting the steeply vaulted lead-covered roof are gone and speculation is they will not, and very possibly could not be replaced.

The famous rosette windows survived, but were subject to thermal shock from the intense heat and then the sudden cold from the firefighters water sprayed onto the fire. Their actual condition is not yet known. As for the stone structure, Canadian stonemason Robert Watt, the situation may not be quite so bad. He has extensive experience in restoring old stone buildings and I reached on mobile phone.


The cathedral is made from blocks of limestone and many of Canada’s historic buildings are made of limestone, including Parliament where Watt’s company, RJW-Gem Campbell Stonemasons worked for five years restoring the “West Block”.

Robert “Bobby” Watt, president RJW-Gem Campbell Stonemasons (jJacques Poirtras CBC)

He says that the stonemasons social media group has been active with reports from French stonemasons, and while the fire may well have damaged many of the stones, he says the quarries where the original stone came from are still available so the blocks and mortar will be the same as the original.

He also says the vault support ribs were of a very strong design  and held up although some of the “webbing” between them collapsed in a couple of places.  He says if the ribs are sound, then replacing the spaces between them will not be difficult.

It would not be the first time the Cathedral has been restored, After the French revolution it was used as a warehouse for awhile, and deteriorated. Cleaned up for the 1804 coronation of Napoleon, a major restoration began in the mid 1800’s when the spire was added. A major cleanup of centuries of soot and grime was performed in 1963, with restorations  in 1991 and 2000. A major roof restoration was underway when it caught fire on Monday evening,

Aerial view of damage. It is expected the cathedral will be closed for up to six years. (via CBC)

With literally hundreds of millions of dollars pledged already for the restoration, Watt says from what he has seen in images, and heard from stonemasons in France, it may well be possible to meet French President Macron’s pledge of rebuilding and restoration in five years.  The major hurdle might be to find enough tradespeople skilled in such masonry restoration, along with carpenters, coppersmiths and lead workers. Watt notes that when Canada’s Centre Block burned in 1916, the entire structure was razed and rebuilt with the tall Victory and Peace tower dominating in a mere three and half years.

Additional information

View of interior damage- via Facebook

Posted by Jean-Philippe Le Trévou on Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Categories: Economy, International, Society
Tags: , , , , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish or in one of the two official languages, English or French. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available


One comment on “ Notre Dame restoration, a Canadian stonemason comments
  1. I just hope all the resident people are good! It may not harm them!