The Villa Saint-Martin was the first retreat house in Canada to offer facilitated or preached retreats. Retreats began between 1910 and 1913 at the Villa’s first location in Boucherville, QC. The retreat centre then moved to Laval. It took its name from the parish where it was located. In these years following its foundation, interest grew dramatically in this style of retreat and by the 1950’s, the Villa had welcomed over 100,000 retreatants.
In 1976, Auxiliary Bishop Leonard Crowley asked the Jesuits to establish a centre where the laity could go to deepen their spirituality and learn to accompany others on their spiritual journey. Jack Belair, SJ, superior of the Jesuit community at that time, responded to this request by donating 4567 West Broadway for this purpose.
This property was built in 1910 and was the first house on the unpaved West Broadway Street, near the future Loyola College and High School. It originally contained two separate apartments and had a large garden. After the First World War it became a rooming house for individuals who worked at the College, and for a period of time was occupied by the St. Ignatius Elementary School.