From the French regime until World War Two, Côte-des-Neiges is home to market gardeners, tanners and carvers of monuments. The Little French Village that attracted tourists in the 19th century is transformed in less than 100 years into a district filled with educational and health-care institutions. Today, it is one of Montreal’s most cosmopolitan neighbourhoods.
Sequence 1 Alongside a stream
In the shelter of Mount Royal, market gardeners, tanners and carvers of monuments settle alongside Raimbault Stream. It’s a source of drinking water but it also receives waste from the tanneries and eventually has to be buried in pipes and conduits. As a result of this construction project, Côte-des-Neiges is annexed and becomes part of Montreal.
Sequence 2 Decidedly rural
While suburbs develop elsewhere on the Island of Montreal, Côte-des-Neiges remains decidedly rural. The district is known for its fruit, vegetables, flowers and exotic plants, including the famous Montreal melon.
Sequence 3 The Little French Village
An unusual and little-known fact: in the late 19th century, visitors to Montreal go over the Mountain to Côte-des-Neiges to see for themselves how French Canadians live in the countryside. They get there on foot, on snowshoe, by car and of course by tram!
Sequence 4 An abundance of low-cost land
Fresh mountain air and an abundance of inexpensive land attract many educational and health-care institutions. Trams make it easy to get around. The Université de Montréal also shapes the area.
Sequence 5 Metamorphosis
The Côte-des-Neiges district banks on its appealing landscape but also on its institutions, including St. Joseph’s Oratory and Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery, two undeniable assets. As a result, it attracts three successive waves of immigrants.