History tells us that "in 1640, the Ursuline nuns in Quebec made the first crèche with its wax Jesus". Because of the difficulty at this time of importing figures for the crèche from the mother country, the nuns undertook to make figurines of different sizes by hand, of bee's wax melted down in plaster moulds. They made all the figures for the crèche , including not only the wax Christ Child, but also angels and sometimes animals, jealously guarding the secret of their methods.
The first ornamental figures, or santons, from Provence emerged from the development of family crèches. Commercially-produced figures in polychrome plaster were to appear later. Little by little these replaced the home-made wax figures. In Quebec, several churches have nonetheless preserved their traditional wax Jesus.
More lively than ever, the tradition of the church crèche has resulted in the recent remarkable works for the crèche et Saint Jean Port Joli, which includes the famous Marie de l'Avent (Mary of the Advent) which has aroused much curiosity and admiration.