Neighbourhood Pointe-Saint-Charles

History

1654 1826

1654-1826

A rural landscape marked by religious communities

Before the arrival of the Europeans and up until the 19th century, the Aboriginals fished and hunted geese in this marshy land, originally called Teiontiakon (the name given by the Aboriginals to the tips of the island of Montreal).

In 1654, after the founding of Montreal, Charles Lemoyne acquired this land, named Pointe-Saint-Charles in his honour. A few years later, various religious communities took over the Point. In 1659, the Sulpicians established the Saint-Gabriel farm on a plot of land stretching from the Saint-Pierre meadow to the property of Nicolas Millet. Marguerite Bourgeoys, founder of the Notre-Dame Congregation, later acquired the farmstead and used it to house the Filles du Roy (Daughters of the King) (now the Maison Saint-Gabriel). A smallholding (farm) and a workroom for the education of the girls were also built. In 1737, the Sisters of Charity of Marguerite d'Youville joined the other communities. At the time, the neighbourhood was agricultural, crossed by the former Lower Lachine Road. It consisted of just a few rustic homes.

Image : HM_ARC_003535

Wellington Street and Maison Saint-Gabriel

© Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Albums de rues E.-Z. Massicotte – MAS 8-161-b, © Héritage Montréal


1654-1826

A rural landscape marked by religious communities

Before the arrival of the Europeans and up until the 19th century, the Aboriginals fished and hunted geese in this marshy land, originally called Teiontiakon (the name given by the Aboriginals to the tips of the island of Montreal).

In 1654, after the founding of Montreal, Charles Lemoyne acquired this land, named Pointe-Saint-Charles in his honour. A few years later, various religious communities took over the Point. In 1659, the Sulpicians established the Saint-Gabriel farm on a plot of land stretching from the Saint-Pierre meadow to the property of Nicolas Millet. Marguerite Bourgeoys, founder of the Notre-Dame Congregation, later acquired the farmstead and used it to house the Filles du Roy (Daughters of the King) (now the Maison Saint-Gabriel). A smallholding (farm) and a workroom for the education of the girls were also built. In 1737, the Sisters of Charity of Marguerite d'Youville joined the other communities. At the time, the neighbourhood was agricultural, crossed by the former Lower Lachine Road. It consisted of just a few rustic homes.

Image : HM_ARC_004303

Marguerite Bourgeoys

6.9 cm
6.8 cm
© McCord Museum, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_001943

On the Lower Lachine Road

8.6 cm
13.5 cm
© Dinu Bumbaru, © Héritage Montréal


1826 1875

1826-1875

Industrial explosion

During this period, the landscape underwent a radical transformation. In 1826, a group of business men financed the construction of a canal between Lachine and Montreal to compete with the Erie Canal. The construction of the Grand Trunk Railway and of Victoria Bridge, inaugurated in 1860, stimulated economic and population growth and a real estate boom. Numerous companies located along the banks of the canal, widened for the first time between 1843 and 1848: the industrial complex of railway shops (then the largest in Canada), hydraulic energy, the Pillow & Hersey Manufacturing Company, Ostell doors and window sashes, the Redpath sugar refinery, etc.

New jobs were created, attracting many workers. Skilled labourers from England and Scotland, primarily Protestants, worked in construction, drove locomotives, and settled in the south end of Pointe-Saint-Charles. French Canadians and Irish Catholics lived further north and formed a pool of uneducated local workers.

Beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century, an upsurge in residential construction began to transform the still relatively unurbanized neighbourhood. Real estate developers bought up land, divided it into plots, and resold it to contractors, who built flat-roofed row houses for the workers, built on the model of industrial cities in England.

Image : HM_ARC_004621

Victoria bridge with sleigh and ice vendors

© Ville de Montréal. Gestion de documents et archives (VM6-D780-21-3(1)), © Héritage Montréal


1826-1875

Industrial explosion

During this period, the landscape underwent a radical transformation. In 1826, a group of business men financed the construction of a canal between Lachine and Montreal to compete with the Erie Canal. The construction of the Grand Trunk Railway and of Victoria Bridge, inaugurated in 1860, stimulated economic and population growth and a real estate boom. Numerous companies located along the banks of the canal, widened for the first time between 1843 and 1848: the industrial complex of railway shops (then the largest in Canada), hydraulic energy, the Pillow & Hersey Manufacturing Company, Ostell doors and window sashes, the Redpath sugar refinery, etc.

New jobs were created, attracting many workers. Skilled labourers from England and Scotland, primarily Protestants, worked in construction, drove locomotives, and settled in the south end of Pointe-Saint-Charles. French Canadians and Irish Catholics lived further north and formed a pool of uneducated local workers.

Beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century, an upsurge in residential construction began to transform the still relatively unurbanized neighbourhood. Real estate developers bought up land, divided it into plots, and resold it to contractors, who built flat-roofed row houses for the workers, built on the model of industrial cities in England.

Image : HM_ARC_005107

Aerial view of the Grand Trunk Workshops
Circa 1930
© Library and Archives Canada / PA-37500, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_005215

Atlas of the City and Island of Montreal, Plate N, Pointe-Saint-Charles
1879
45 cm
72 cm
© Dinu Bumbaru / © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_004913

Redpath Sugar Building

© Parks Canada, Lachine Canal NHSC, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_004981

Shipping out, horse-trucks for the delivery of Redpath sugar to the British governement
Circa 1916
© Redpath Sugar Museum, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_005600

Working-class homes, de Sébastopol Street

21.5 cm
27.8 cm
© David Hanna, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_005158



2.5 cm
3.5 cm
© Jean Bélisle, © Héritage Montréal


1876 1930

1876-1930

Industrial peak

Toward the end of the 19th century, Pointe-Saint-Charles was the largest industrial sector in Montreal and all of Canada. In 1875, 75of the neighbourhood's largely Irish population spoke English, and the remaining 25were French Canadians. That year, real estate developers created the Village of Saint Gabriel in the east end of Pointe-Saint-Charles; it was annexed to Montreal two years later.

The various communities put their individual stamp on their respective living environments. Presbyterian, Anglican, Baptist, and Methodist churches were built on Wellington Street, one of the neighbourhood's major thoroughfares. The Irish Saint Gabriel church and the French Canadian Saint-Charles church appeared on Centre Street. Polish, Ukrainian, and African American immigrants joined those cultural groups already present. Many multiple-unit buildings were constructed between 1880 and 1920. In addition to the working-class housing, more elaborate homes were built for the skilled workers and the local middle class. Working conditions were poor, and strikes by factory workers broke out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The last agricultural lands, owned by the Sulpicians, were bought by industrialists in 1879. The gigantic Northern Electric factory was opened there, and the Canadian National completely rebuilt the railway shops.

A few parks were developed: Monahan Park in 1910 (renamed Marguerite Bourgeoys Park in 1922), the Fafard playing field in 1932, then Leber and Argenson Parks. The local schools - Lorne, Saint-Gabriel, and Saint-Charles - provided children with a high-quality education.

Image : HM_ARC_005501

Marguerite-Bourgeoys park

20.3 cm
20.3 cm
© Ville de Montréal. Gestion de documents et archives (VM6-D1901.135), © Héritage Montréal


1876-1930

Industrial peak

Toward the end of the 19th century, Pointe-Saint-Charles was the largest industrial sector in Montreal and all of Canada. In 1875, 75of the neighbourhood's largely Irish population spoke English, and the remaining 25were French Canadians. That year, real estate developers created the Village of Saint Gabriel in the east end of Pointe-Saint-Charles; it was annexed to Montreal two years later.

The various communities put their individual stamp on their respective living environments. Presbyterian, Anglican, Baptist, and Methodist churches were built on Wellington Street, one of the neighbourhood's major thoroughfares. The Irish Saint Gabriel church and the French Canadian Saint-Charles church appeared on Centre Street. Polish, Ukrainian, and African American immigrants joined those cultural groups already present. Many multiple-unit buildings were constructed between 1880 and 1920. In addition to the working-class housing, more elaborate homes were built for the skilled workers and the local middle class. Working conditions were poor, and strikes by factory workers broke out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The last agricultural lands, owned by the Sulpicians, were bought by industrialists in 1879. The gigantic Northern Electric factory was opened there, and the Canadian National completely rebuilt the railway shops.

A few parks were developed: Monahan Park in 1910 (renamed Marguerite Bourgeoys Park in 1922), the Fafard playing field in 1932, then Leber and Argenson Parks. The local schools - Lorne, Saint-Gabriel, and Saint-Charles - provided children with a high-quality education.

Image : HM_ARC_004255

Stone commemorating 6000 immigrant deaths, Point St. Charles, QC, 1898
1898
12 cm
10 cm
© McCord Museum, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_003005

Alexandra Hospital, Point St. Charles

8.7 cm
13.7 cm
© Dinu Bumbaru © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_004541

Old Church Saint Gabriel before the fire

©Fondation du patrimoine religieux du Québec, ©Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_004506

Saint-Charles Church

©Fondation du patrimoine religieux du Québec, ©Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_001860

Wellington Street, Pointe-Saint-Charles

8.5 cm
13.5 cm
© Dinu Bumbaru, © Héritage Montréal


1931 1965

1931-1965

Industrial decline

The Great Depression of the 1930's put a damper on the district's economic activity. In the following decades, the intensive development of the highway system, the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the closing of the Lachine Canal all robbed the sector of the industrial vitality generated in the nineteenth century.

Despite the expansion of manufacturing output spurred by World War II, which benefited companies such as Northern Electric, the region's companies and factories had ceased to thrive and began moving to new industrial areas near transportation routes on the outskirts of the city. Many of the residents lost their jobs or moved away. From the high of 30,000 inhabitants in 1931, the population had dropped to 13,000 by 1991.

To survive this decline, the residents closed ranks. A true pioneer in the development of community action in Quebec, Pointe-Saint-Charles created tools to fight the falling standard of living, the pollution linked to the many years of industrial activity, the deterioration of neighbourhood life, and the poor housing quality.

Leisure activities, sports teams, choirs, theatre, picnics, and other activities were organized by and for the residents. This solidarity gave the neighbourhood the atmosphere of a proud and dignified village.

Image : HM_ARC_002303

Northern Electric building and CN sector
July 1930
© Courtesy of Bell Canada Historical Collection, © Héritage Montréal


1931-1965

Industrial decline

The Great Depression of the 1930's put a damper on the district's economic activity. In the following decades, the intensive development of the highway system, the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the closing of the Lachine Canal all robbed the sector of the industrial vitality generated in the nineteenth century.

Despite the expansion of manufacturing output spurred by World War II, which benefited companies such as Northern Electric, the region's companies and factories had ceased to thrive and began moving to new industrial areas near transportation routes on the outskirts of the city. Many of the residents lost their jobs or moved away. From the high of 30,000 inhabitants in 1931, the population had dropped to 13,000 by 1991.

To survive this decline, the residents closed ranks. A true pioneer in the development of community action in Quebec, Pointe-Saint-Charles created tools to fight the falling standard of living, the pollution linked to the many years of industrial activity, the deterioration of neighbourhood life, and the poor housing quality.

Leisure activities, sports teams, choirs, theatre, picnics, and other activities were organized by and for the residents. This solidarity gave the neighbourhood the atmosphere of a proud and dignified village.

Image : HM_ARC_004373

Group of workers posing in front of Northern Electric

© Bell Canada Historical Collection, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_002290

Women assembling telephone cords (Northern Electric)
Before 1930
© Courtesy of Bell Canada Historical Collection, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_005509

Neighbourhood life: Pointe-Saint-Charles houses

© Ville de Montréal. Gestion de documents et archives (VM94-EM1481-12.2), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_005483

Post office on Centre Street

24.1 cm
17.8 cm
© Ville de Montréal. Gestion de documents et archives (R-3831.2(1679-2875).002, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_005440

Pointe-Saint-Charles YMCA front with half-moon windows

© Concordia University Archives, © Héritage Montréal


1966 2008

1966-2008

The invincible neighbourhood

Though linked to the city by two tunnels (Atwater and Wellington) and two bridges (Charlevoix and Des Seigneurs), the neighbourhood is split by railroad tracks and, aside from the Charlevoix metro station, opened in 1978, is poorly served by public transit. Launched in the early 1980s, PIQA (a program to revitalize old neighbourhoods) promotes the renovation and beautification of streets, alley ways, and buildings.

Community groups continue to be pro-active in areas related to the fight against poverty and the improvement of living conditions. The community clinic (prototype for the CLSC), community legal services, the housing information committee, Action-Gardien, and many co-ops are examples of the energy and determination demonstrated by residents.

In 1997, the new revitalization plan, with its policies for stimulating local employment and improving housing, began to revive the neighbourhood. The creation of many new housing units, the recycling of industrial buildings into business incubators, lofts, and condos, the 2002 re-opening of the canal as a recreation and tourism area, the improvement of public spaces, and heritage enhancement have all helped transform the neighbourhood and attract new residents.

Image : HM_ARC_002644

Back view of Ferme Saint-Gabriel from the LeBer Park
2000
© Ville de Montréal, SDCQMVDE, Direction des grands parcs et de la nature en ville, © Héritage Montréal


1966-2008

The invincible neighbourhood

Though linked to the city by two tunnels (Atwater and Wellington) and two bridges (Charlevoix and Des Seigneurs), the neighbourhood is split by railroad tracks and, aside from the Charlevoix metro station, opened in 1978, is poorly served by public transit. Launched in the early 1980s, PIQA (a program to revitalize old neighbourhoods) promotes the renovation and beautification of streets, alley ways, and buildings.

Community groups continue to be pro-active in areas related to the fight against poverty and the improvement of living conditions. The community clinic (prototype for the CLSC), community legal services, the housing information committee, Action-Gardien, and many co-ops are examples of the energy and determination demonstrated by residents.

In 1997, the new revitalization plan, with its policies for stimulating local employment and improving housing, began to revive the neighbourhood. The creation of many new housing units, the recycling of industrial buildings into business incubators, lofts, and condos, the 2002 re-opening of the canal as a recreation and tourism area, the improvement of public spaces, and heritage enhancement have all helped transform the neighbourhood and attract new residents.

Image : HM_ARC_005493

Community clinic on Dublin Street

12.7 cm
17.8 cm
© Ville de Montréal. Gestion des documents et archives(R-4657.2), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_005515

Neighbourhood life: Pointe-Saint-Charles houses

© Ville de Montréal. Gestion de documents et archives (VM94-EM1481-56.1), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_005512

Neighbourhood life: Pointe-Saint-Charles houses

© Ville de Montréal. Gestion de documents et archives (VM94-EM1481-3.2), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_005516

Neighbourhood life: Pointe-Saint-Charles houses

© Ville de Montréal. Gestion de documents et archives (VM94-EM1481-58.2), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_002670

Aerial view of LeBer Park and Saint-Gabriel farmhouse

© Ville de Montréal, SDCQMVDE, Direction des grands parcs et de la nature en ville (DM5 #134 105), © Héritage Montréal