A Prestigious Neighbourhood

Prestige, opulence, talent...

A stroll through Montreal's most prestigious neighbourhood in the late 19th century. The imposing architecture on the south side of Mount Royal serves as a reminder of the presence of a wealthy business class, a university with researchers of renown and talented craftsmen who created the ornamentation of the many residential buildings in the Square Mile.


Citizens banded together to prevent the destruction of this unique and irreplaceable architectural heritage.

Sequence 1 A Bourgeois Neighbourhood

The wealthiest members of the English-speaking community built their mansions in the meadows and pastures on the south side of Mount Royal. This area, known as the Square Mile, became one of Montreal's most prestigious neighbourhoods in the 1900s.

Sequence 2 McGill University

James McGill willed his 46-acre property on the condition that it be used to found a university. The first classes were held in 1829. Other wealthy Montrealers have also contributed generously to finance teaching and research at the University, including the Redpath, Molson and Macdonald families.

Sequence 3 Opulent Houses

The Square Mile still has opulent houses that testify to the influence of Montreal's English-speaking business class. The imposing architecture and sumptuous interiors reflect various European influences.

Sequence 4 A Worldwide Reputation

As McGill University expanded rapidly in the late 19th century, it attracted famous scientists to its campus and to the Square Mile: the American neurologist Wilder G. Penfield, researcher Hans Selye and Dr. Ernest Rutherford, a pioneer of nuclear physics and winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1908.

Sequence 5 In the Shadow of Mount Royal

The celebrated landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed Mount Royal Park, inaugurated in 1876. Municipal officials were acting in response to the many petitions filed as a result of clear cutting on the south side of the mountain.

Sequence 6 Talented Craftsmen

The Square Mile also contains a more modest built heritage, created by talented craftsmen. Stacked housing, duplexes, triplexes and beautiful gatehouses can still be seen during a stroll through the neighbourhood.

Sequence 7 Emergency Mobilization!

In the post-war period, Montreal's downtown expanded, transforming the Square Mile. Mansions were demolished as apartment buildings and office towers went up, threatening not only the view of the Mountain but also a built heritage unique within Canada. Committed citizens mobilized, notably for the Milton Park project.

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