SAINT-LÉONARD FROM 1886 TO TODAY
The history of Saint-Léonard, from its founding in 1886 until today, falls into three major periods.
FROM 1886 TO THE MID-1950s
A rural existence and a stable, homogeneous population
This period is dominated by rural life and a stable, homogenous Saint-Léonard community. The number of inhabitants changed little: the population rose from a couple of hundred residents in 1886 to 326 in 1921 and 925 in 1956. The population consisted of Catholic French Canadians who derive most of their income from farming. Anyone travelling to Saint-Léonard in those days would have seen farmland, the main street, Rue Jarry, and a church.
1886: Civil recognition of the parish in April 1886, and the first meeting of the municipal council of the parish of Saint-Léonard-de-Port-Maurice. On June 12, the first mayor, Louis Sicard, was elected; he would hold the position until January 21, 1901.
1915: On March 5, the municipality of the parish of Saint-Léonard-de-Port-Maurice became the town of Saint-Léonard-de-Port-Maurice.
1721: The first official mention of the existence of an area known as Côte de Saint-Léonard in the records of New France.
1885: On November 21, the territory of the parish of Saint-Léonard-de-Port-Maurice was detached from the parishes of Sault-au-Récollet and Longue-Pointe.
1912: On December 16, the municipality of Saint-Michel de Laval was detached from the municipal territory of Saint-Léonard-de-Port-Maurice.
1916: Another part of the territory of the town of Saint-Léonard was detached to form the parish of Saint-Léonard-de-Port-Maurice, which in no way affects the status of the town of Saint-Léonard-de-Port Maurice. The detached portion would become Ville d’Anjou in 1956.
FROM 1955 TO THE MID 1970s
The housing and population boom
Those were the most turbulent years of Saint-Léonard’s history: home building sites proliferated and the population virtually exploded (from 925 in 1956 to 52,040 in 1971); the municipal councillors undertook the task of development planning and control.
It all began with the initiative of a group of Montrealers who set up the Coopérative d'habitation de Montréal and decided to buy a piece of property in Saint-Léonard – the Renaud land, which is now the area of Rue Aimé-Renaud, Rue des Artisans, Rue Alphonse-Desjardins, Place des Fondateurs and adjacent streets – to build a large housing project based on the principles of a co-operative. This venture allowed 655 workers with modest incomes to own property and raise their families in the suburbs.
The housing boom coincided with two other major events:
- The arrival of large numbers of new Canadians of Italian origin, which would change the social dynamics and enrich the Saint-Léonard community on the human, social and cultural levels;
- The development of an urban plan, which would shape the territory of Saint-Léonard and give it the appearance it has today.
1962: On November 10, Saint-Léonard-de-Port-Maurice became the town of Saint-Léonard.
1963: The town of Saint-Léonard became the City of Saint-Léonard on May 22, and Saint-Léonard adopted the motto Res, non verb, meaning action, not words.
1956: Start of the Coopérative d'habitation de Montréal housing development, a huge construction projects of 655 single-family homes in an integrated urban complex that would extend over the next six years, until 1962.
Coat of arms and monogram
1963: The municipal council adopted the official coat of arms.
1965: The city hall opened at 6065 Boulevard Metropolitain Est.
1966: The public library was inaugurated at 5705 Rue Jarry Est.
1967: The first arena (arena Saint-Léonard) was built at 5300 Boulevard Lacordaire.
FROM THE LATE 1970S TO TODAY
The years following the housing boom were devoted to consolidation. Saint-Léonard finished its urban plan, completed the development of its territory, improved its public services, and adopted social assistance policies to meet the needs of an aging population and the new social realities.
This period was also marked by the diversification of the human and social fabric of Saint-Léonard, as French Canadians and Leonardians of Italian origin were joined by new Canadians from various countries.
Today, the borough of Saint-Léonard is a multicultural community that is open to the world, and where harmony reigns among members of different cultural groups.
1980: The City of Saint-Léonard became the Town of Saint-Léonard.
2002: The Town of Saint-Léonard became the borough of Saint-Léonard as a result of the Montréal mergers.
1974: Official opening of the new Town Hall at 8400 Boulevard Lacordaire, and the public library at 8420 Boulevard Lacordaire.
1979: Inauguration of a municipal art gallery, Galerie Port-Maurice, at 5345 Rue Jarry Est.
1983: Construction of an indoor pool at 5115 Rue des Galets, including a main pool and a learners’ pool.
1984: Expansion of the public library, which doubled in size, was computerized, added new services and incorporated the Port-Maurice art gallery.
1987: Construction of the Hébert sports stadium at 7655 Rue Colbert.
1998: On May 27, the Town of Saint-Léonard inaugurated the Saint-Léonard Park Community Pavilion at 8181 Boulevard Lacordaire, home to a police station and community organizations. That same day, the official opening of two new community police stations (Montreal Urban Community Police Department): Station 41 (area north of the Metropolitan Expressway) at 8181 Boulevard Lacordaire and Station 42 (area south of the Metropolitan Expressway) at 5555 Rue Jean-Talon Est.
2000: On July 11, city council adopted a resolution changing the name of the Saint-Léonard arena to Martin Brodeur Arena to pay tribute to the famous National Hockey League goaltender who grew up in Saint-Léonard and whose athletic achievements serve as an inspiration to today's youth.
2001: On April 23, a new courtroom is inaugurated for the Saint-Léonard Municipal Court located in the Leonardo da Vinci Centre, just steps away from Town Hall. Construction of the community pavilion at Hébert park and expansion of Delorme and Pirandello park pavilions. The Joseph Gagnon home undergoes extensive renovations.
2002: Construction of water play areas at Garibaldi and Pirandello parks.
2003: Renovation of the Hébert arena and upgrading of the loans counter of the Saint-Léonard library.
2004: Construction of a water play area at Delorme Park.
2006: Expansion of the indoor pool and the addition of a family changing room, a multipurpose pool with a water play area and an outdoor terrace. Expansion of the Wilfrid-Bastien pavilion.
1983: From March 4 to 13, the Town of Saint-Léonard hosted the provincial finals of the Québec Games, a 10-day celebration of sports, culture, youth and solidarity in the town’s streets and community centres.
1993: On September 4, the Town of Saint-Léonard acted as the host city for the provincial awards ceremony for the Villes, villages et campagnes fleuris competition organized by the Québec government. Delegates from local committees for the Maisons et balcons fleuris du Québec competition converged on Saint-Léonard to select the annual winners province-wide.
1999: On July 1, Place de l'harmonie was inaugurated. Surrounding the fountain between the public library and City Hall, the site underscores the supportive, cordial relations among the various cultural communities that make up Saint-Léonard’s population.
2005: On September 14, a plaque commemorating the first Great Léonardian, Wilson Church, was unveiled.
Source: City of Montreal
Patricia R. Lattanzio
District Saint-Léonard Est
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