Le Plateau-Mont-Royal

Starting in 1745, the City of Montréal began to extend beyond its fortifications, and Faubourg Saint-Laurent began to develop to the north.

In 1792, the City of Montréal decided to expand its limits to 100 chains (about two kilometres) from the fortifications.

To the north, the mountain and Duluth Street become the new city limits.

Saint-Laurent Road is the only road leading to the villages located along the Rivière des Prairies.

Anyone leaving the city first crossed Côte-à-Baron, as the higher areas of Montréal on either side of Sherbrooke Street between Durocher and Amherst were called.

Not far to the west, the Soeurs Hospitalières de Saint-Joseph religious order owned a large piece of land allocated for their future Hôtel-Dieu hospital. The surrounding lands granted at the beginnings of the colony had been parcelled and sold to English-speaking families, who built large houses surrounded by gardens. 

East of Saint-Laurent Road, the landscape was more rural, with peaceful country houses surrounded by fields. Properties were immense: Mr. Courville’s property stretched from Sherbrooke Street to Mount Royal Avenue. There were also farms belonging to well-known bourgeois Montréal families, including the Guys, the Cherriers, the Vigers and the Papineaus. Their properties were long, regular strips of land lined up all the way to Chemin Papineau.

19TH CENTURY 

Around 1850, the City of Montréal built a water reservoir at the current site of Carré St. Louis to supply water to Côte-à-Baron residents. The development of the square itself would take place in 1880.

In the meantime, the federal government purchased the Logan farm, the current site of Lafontaine Park, for the conduct of field military exercises.

Good building stone had been discovered outside the city several years back, and families soon settled around the Bellair tannery, near Rue Henri-Julien and Rue Mont-Royal, where road to the quarries started.

These quarries were the source of stone used to build Notre-Dame Basilica, the Bonsecours Market and many other buildings.

The operation of the quarries led to the birth, in 1846, of the village of Coteau-Saint-Louis, also known as the village des pieds-noirs, as the quarry workers like to walk around barefoot.

In 1848, Bishop Bourget established a mission where a first chapel was built, and then the Saint-Enfant-Jésus-du-Mile-End Church six years later.

In 1864, the Sisters of Providence build the Deaf-Mute Institute of Montreal on Saint-Denis Street.

The village of Saint-Jean-Baptiste was also established around 1860. The heart of this village was its market, located at the corner of Saint-Lawrence Boulevard and Rachel. Curiously, a toll booth was set up at the exit of the village on Mont-Royal Avenue, and anyone heading south along the road had to pay a tool in order to proceed.

In 1863, municipal councillor A. A. Stevenson made the first proposal to turn the mountain into a public park. The project slowly took shape and in 1872, the city began buying land from various owners. Mont-Royal Park was inaugurated in 1876, even though the landscaping work was not fully completed.

As of 1876, the Montréal-Saint-Jérôme railway track ran alongside the quarries, which led to the creation of the village of Saint-Louis-du Mile-End in the area around Saint-Enfant-Jésus-du-Mile-End Church, the home of the Sisters of Providence and the Deaf-Mute Institute.

Development of Lafontaine Park, which would be inaugurated in 1901, began in 1889 with an excavation of the eastern part, tree planting, and the moving to the Dollard monument’s current location of the Viger Square greenhouses, where all the plants that adorned the public squares were cultivated. A house was built for the park caretaker in 1890, and was inhabited by Mr. Bernadet, the superintendent of city parks, and his family for 60 years.

The still-growing city of Montréal annexed the village of Coteau-Saint-Louis in 1893.

In 1895, the city overflowed east of Papineau Street and the village of De Lorimier formed, with its graceful avenues, concrete sidewalks and elegant homes. It was home to a renowned horse racing track, located at the site of the current Baldwin Park.

20TH CENTURY

At the turn of the century, Coteau-Saint-Louis was a cosmopolitan city, with Protestant churches and synagogues. Businesses sprang up along Saint-Lawrence Boulevard, which gradually become the border between the English-speaking world to the west and the French-speaking world to the east.

During this period, the population density in Plateau Mont-Royal reached new heights.

In 1909, the City of Montréal annexed the villages of De Lorimier and Saint-Louis-du-Mile-End.

At that time, Saint-Louis-du-Mile-End boasted some 20 industries, as well as the city’s first tree-lined boulevard, namely today’s Saint-Joseph’s Boulevard.

In 1920, Université de Montréal relocated to the mountain, leading the French and English bourgeoisie to move to new neighbourhoods. The economic depression of the 1930s put a halt to real estate development in the area.

In order to promote economic growth and control unemployment, the city engaged in large projects, like the construction of Laurier clinic, the juvenile courthouse (today the National Theatre School of Canada), the Sir-Wilfrid-Laurier park chalet and the Iberville tunnel.

By 1962, Boulevard Saint-Joseph had lost its median and its trees.

After the end of World War II in 1945, Plateau Mont-Royal became a haven for newly-arrived ethnic communities. The Jewish community continued to run many of their businesses on Saint-Laurent boulevard but took up residence in nearby Outremont and Côte-des-Neiges. They were replaced by a Greek community that brought with it pastry- and bread-making skills.

The more recent arrivals are the Portuguese and Vietnamese communities. The Portuguese have infused the neighbourhoods of Saint-Louis and Saint-Jean-Baptiste with the warmth of their homeland. Once-dilapidated houses have been beautifully renovated and repainted.

Since 1980, the back-to-the-city trend has attracted professionals, artists and students to the Plateau, making it the centre of Quebec's intellectual and artistic life.

Source: City of Montréal

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