In front of the Parliament Building, Fontaine de Tourny's 43 water jets, arresting masks, and graceful figures immediately draw the eye. Close to 7 meters tall and 4 meters in diameter, it casts a powerful spell when lit up at night.
The fountain was inaugurated on July 3, 2007. It was a gift from Simons department stores to the City of Québec for its 400th anniversary. The people of Québec City immediately took it to their hearts, and it has become a source of pride.
Fontaine de Tourny spent over a century in France before becoming a Québec City landmark.
It was originally created by French sculptor Mathurin Moreau and received a gold medal at the 1855 Paris World's Fair. From 1857 to 1960, it adorned a broad avenue known as the Allées de Tourny in downtown Bordeaux (which happens to be one of Québec's twin cities). In 1960, the City of Bordeaux removed it, citing maintenance costs. It was safely stored away until the turn of the 21st century when it was purchased by a Paris antiques dealer.
Peter Simons discovered the fountain during a visit to the Saint-Ouen flea market in the spring of 2003. At the time, he was nursing the idea of a major gift to the people of Québec City in recognition of their support for his retail fashion business (first established in the Old City in 1840). He had the work moved to Québec where it was stored in a barn on Île d'Orléans for restoration.
It cost Commission de la capitale nationale du Québec and the City of Québec close to $2 million to prepare the site and install and illuminate the fountain. La Maison Simons covered the cost of purchasing, shipping, restoring, and assembling the fountain, which came to nearly $4 million.