Talk: Historic identity of the Plateau Mont-Royal 2

Talk by Jean-Claude Robert
Professor Emeritus, Department of History, UQAM

See Jean-Claude Robert’s article on this topic

Canada, Photothèque nationale de l’air, Montréal 1965, cliché A 18763-150 (1:20000)

Canada, Photothèque nationale de l’air, Montréal 1965, cliché A 18763-150 (1:20000)

What is a neighbourhood? A part of the city, of course, but it’s not just a geographic area; it can also be the product of a series of communities in time, sources of multiple identities. The Plateau Mont-Royal is typical in this regard. Villages, parishes and neighbourhoods each gave the Plateau their own flavour, well before the establishment of the borough council in 2002.

Or is the “Plateau” a fictional place created by authors such as Mordecai Richler and Michel Tremblay? And what if fiction played a part in fashioning reality?

Jean-Claude Robert, specialist in the history of Montreal, is the author of the Atlas historique de Montréal and one of the co-authors of Quebec: A History 1867-1929 and Québec Since 1930.

  • Sunday 25 January 20142:00 – 4:00 pm
  • Mile End Library, 5434 avenue du Parc, Montréal (south of Saint-Viateur – 80 bus) – in the upstairs meeting room
  • Free, no reservation required
  • Presentation in French, discussion in English and in French

2 thoughts on “Talk: Historic identity of the Plateau Mont-Royal

  • Gordon Martin

    I certainly hope to be at M. Robert’s presentation. A rather mundane question in my mind is re the division of the east side of Hutchison being in Montreal and the west side where I live being in Outremont! Why is the dividing line in the middle of our street? Which I gather to be so from the civic services! The history behind this division, albeit trivial, interests me

    • Justin Bur Post author

      Good evening Gordon – We will be pleased to meet you on Sunday!
      In answer to your question, the municipal border at Hutchison Street was established along a rural property line in 1846, during the first wave of municipal incorporations in Canada. Although many of the municipalities then set up were abolished in short order and new ones were created some years later, this particular borderline has always remained in place. Even before 1846, the limit between the concessions of Côte Sainte-Catherine and Coteau Saint-Louis had been placed here by the Sulpicians; it’s a border with a long history.

      The question then becomes: why was Hutchison Street laid out right along the municipal border in 1890? The real estate developers responsible for this street layout – Torontonians with the unlikely names of Clarence James McCuaig and Rienzi Athel Mainwaring – had bought a strip of land six arpents (about 1150 English feet or 350 m) wide straddling the municipal border, two arpents in Outremont and four in Saint-Louis-du-Mile-End, running between what are now Fairmount Av. and Saint-Zotique St. They wanted to create the greatest possible number of uniformly-sized building lots of about 50 x 100 feet, and thus calculated the optimal placement of four parallel streets (Spadina, now Durocher; Madison, now Hutchison; Park; and Admiral, now Jeanne-Mance), 60 feet wide except 80 feet for Park Av., and three 20-foot lanes. If you do the calculation you’ll find that Hutchison St. ends up along the eastern side of the municipal border, with the lots on the west side of the street in Outremont. For the same reason, Park Av. had to be moved slightly westward from its previous alignment, creating the bend in the road just north of Fairmount Av.

      The rest of the story of this real estate project called Montreal Annex and the ups and downs of McCuaig & Mainwaring will appear later this year on this site, in an article by Yves Desjardins.

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