Neighbourhood Square Mile

History

1801 1840

Before 1840

Rumour has it that the fortified village of Hochelaga described by Jacques Cartier in 1535 was situated close to the campus of McGill University. After this Iroquois community mysteriously disappeared from the Saint Lawence, the land was acquired by the Sulpicians.

Following the Conquest of 1760, fur magnates and factory and railway builders owned the land. Flower and vegetable gardens, equestrian fields, ponds and luxurious country houses gave a special flavour to this neighbourhood, which established itself on the south flank of Mount Royal.

Between 1801 and 1821, the destruction of Montreal's fortifications accelerated urban development to the north. In willing his property for the founding of a university, James McGill heralded the development of a prestigious neighbourhood to the north of Sherbrooke Street, in the shadow of Mount Royal.

Image : HM_ARC_001161

Montreal, From the Mountain
1839-1842, 19th century
12 cm
18 cm
© McCord Museum, (M20074), © Héritage Montréal


Before 1840

Rumour has it that the fortified village of Hochelaga described by Jacques Cartier in 1535 was situated close to the campus of McGill University. After this Iroquois community mysteriously disappeared from the Saint Lawence, the land was acquired by the Sulpicians.

Following the Conquest of 1760, fur magnates and factory and railway builders owned the land. Flower and vegetable gardens, equestrian fields, ponds and luxurious country houses gave a special flavour to this neighbourhood, which established itself on the south flank of Mount Royal.

Between 1801 and 1821, the destruction of Montreal's fortifications accelerated urban development to the north. In willing his property for the founding of a university, James McGill heralded the development of a prestigious neighbourhood to the north of Sherbrooke Street, in the shadow of Mount Royal.

Image : HM_ARC_001373

Montréal vue du Mont-Royal

16 cm
23 cm
© McGill University Archives, (PR014517), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_001185

"Burnside", residence of the Late James McGill, Montreal, QC, 1842, engraving by John H. McNaughton
1925-1975, 20th century
25 cm
20 cm
© McCord Museum, (MP-0000.89), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_000844

Rue Sherbrooke vue vers l'ouest et façade de la maison Corby

12.8 cm
18.3 cm


1840 1930

1840-1930

This was the golden age of the Square Mile. A period of prosperity enabled the anglophone middle class to leave the hectic, crowded old city for the fresh mountain air on the edge of Mount Royal.

At that time, the commercial aristocracy that controlled the nation's destiny owned two-thirds of Canada's wealth. In an area of about one square mile, English-speaking high society devoted itself to the hunt and served lavish dinners in villas inspired by Florence or the Scottish Highlands. All types of architecture coexisted: Medieval and Renaissance, Greek and Roman, Gothic and Germanic. The houses of the Square Mile were designed by renowned architects, mostly of British origin.

Due to violent opposition to deforestation and the speculative ambitions of real-estate promoters, the City of Montreal engaged the services of the landscape architect of Central Park in New York, Frederick Law Olmsted, who proposed a park accessible to the citizens of Montreal. It was done in 1876: the mountain became a park.

For his part, the architect John Ostell drew up a plan for the development of the city outside of the walls encircling Old Montreal.

In the late 19th century, the Square Mile was the most prestigious neighbourhood in Montreal and indeed the entire country. But its tranquillity was disturbed by the construction of Windsor Station and the great shops of Sainte-Catherine Street. From 1900 onward, the future downtown Montreal was knocking at the door.

Image : HM_ARC_001162

Montreal from Mount Royal, QC, about 1890
About 1899, 19th century
20 cm
25 cm
© McCord Museum, (VIEW-2576.A), © Héritage Montréal


1840-1930

This was the golden age of the Square Mile. A period of prosperity enabled the anglophone middle class to leave the hectic, crowded old city for the fresh mountain air on the edge of Mount Royal.

At that time, the commercial aristocracy that controlled the nation's destiny owned two-thirds of Canada's wealth. In an area of about one square mile, English-speaking high society devoted itself to the hunt and served lavish dinners in villas inspired by Florence or the Scottish Highlands. All types of architecture coexisted: Medieval and Renaissance, Greek and Roman, Gothic and Germanic. The houses of the Square Mile were designed by renowned architects, mostly of British origin.

Due to violent opposition to deforestation and the speculative ambitions of real-estate promoters, the City of Montreal engaged the services of the landscape architect of Central Park in New York, Frederick Law Olmsted, who proposed a park accessible to the citizens of Montreal. It was done in 1876: the mountain became a park.

For his part, the architect John Ostell drew up a plan for the development of the city outside of the walls encircling Old Montreal.

In the late 19th century, the Square Mile was the most prestigious neighbourhood in Montreal and indeed the entire country. But its tranquillity was disturbed by the construction of Windsor Station and the great shops of Sainte-Catherine Street. From 1900 onward, the future downtown Montreal was knocking at the door.

Image : HM_ARC_001215

Peter Redpath, Montreal, QC, 1871
1871, 19th century
25 cm
20 cm
© McCord Museum, (I-64451), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_000781

Bâtiments au milieu - McGill, 1852-1915



Image : HM_ARC_001181

Sir Hugh Allan, Montreal, QC, 1879
1879, 19th century
20 cm
12 cm
© McCord Museum, (II-51521), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_000799

Maison Charles R. Hosmer



Image : HM_ARC_001183

Charles R. Hosmer, Montreal, QC, 1897
1897, 19th century
17 cm
12 cm
© McCord Museum, (II-118415), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_001143

Bal en l'honneur de Lord Dufferin dans la maison Ravenscrag
1872


Image : HM_ARC_000788





Image : HM_ARC_001194

Montreal from "Ravenscrag" showing McTavish Street and the Reservoir, QC, panorama, 1869
1869, 19th century
38 cm
38 cm
© McCord Museum, (MP-0000.188.6), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_001193

Gates to McGill University, McGill College Avenue, Montreal, QC, 1869
1869, 19th century
10 cm
8 cm
© McCord Museum, (MP-1982.92), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_001355

"Aerial view, Royal Victoria Hospital and the McGill Campus"

© McGill University Archives, (PR023169), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_000846

La maison Corby et sa voisine

12.8 cm
18.4 cm


1930 2006

1930 to the present

With the economic crisis of 1929, people's taste for ostentation diminished, and the workers required to maintain vast estates were hard to afford. The “Princes of the Mountain” migrated westward, to the Town of Mount Royal and Westmount. Roads were built, and highrises and office towers punctuated the neighbourhood's skyline. The door to real-estate speculation was wide open.

In 50 years, the Square Mile went from golden age to urban decline. The wave of industrialization at the turn of the 20th century brought with it the transformation of the bourgeois residences. Between 1930 and 1950, many single-family homes were transformed into duplexes, triplexes and rooming houses.

In leaving the area for more tranquil places after World War II, the elite left the field open to promoters who in 1957 persuaded the city to void the bylaw limiting the height of buildings to ten storeys. The 1950s and 1960s saw the destruction of architectural heritage and the discombobulation of the urban environment. During this time, dozens of grand mansions were lost, replaced by inferior residences and rooming houses.

Barely 30of the fine houses north of Sherbrooke Street survived. By adapting many late XIXth-century houses to an institutional function, McGill University contributed immeasurably to heritage preservation, not to mention the Milton Parc project. This citizens' movement adopted an innovative cooperative formula allowing more than 700 residents to become homeowners while saving their dwellings from demolition.

Image : HM_ARC_000307

Ste-Catherine et Union, Magasin "Morgan's"

20.2 cm
25.2 cm


1930 to the present

With the economic crisis of 1929, people's taste for ostentation diminished, and the workers required to maintain vast estates were hard to afford. The “Princes of the Mountain” migrated westward, to the Town of Mount Royal and Westmount. Roads were built, and highrises and office towers punctuated the neighbourhood's skyline. The door to real-estate speculation was wide open.

In 50 years, the Square Mile went from golden age to urban decline. The wave of industrialization at the turn of the 20th century brought with it the transformation of the bourgeois residences. Between 1930 and 1950, many single-family homes were transformed into duplexes, triplexes and rooming houses.

In leaving the area for more tranquil places after World War II, the elite left the field open to promoters who in 1957 persuaded the city to void the bylaw limiting the height of buildings to ten storeys. The 1950s and 1960s saw the destruction of architectural heritage and the discombobulation of the urban environment. During this time, dozens of grand mansions were lost, replaced by inferior residences and rooming houses.

Barely 30of the fine houses north of Sherbrooke Street survived. By adapting many late XIXth-century houses to an institutional function, McGill University contributed immeasurably to heritage preservation, not to mention the Milton Parc project. This citizens' movement adopted an innovative cooperative formula allowing more than 700 residents to become homeowners while saving their dwellings from demolition.

Image : HM_ARC_001115

"McGill Campus" ("The McGill News", March 1934, p.)

© McGill University Archives, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_001033

La Maison Morgan's et le Square Philips



Image : HM_ARC_000278

Rue Ste-Catherine, coin Peel

20 cm
25.1 cm


Image : HM_ARC_000281

Ste-Catherine et Peel en hiver

20 cm
25.5 cm


Image : HM_ARC_000282

Rues Ste-Catherine et Peel

20 cm
25.4 cm


Image : HM_ARC_000285

Rue Ste-Catherine, près de Peel, vue vers l'est

20.5 cm
24 cm


Image : HM_ARC_001578

Vue anticipée de l'église en plongée après projet