Mile End Memories is both a historical society and an active community group. We provide keys to understanding the past so that people may become better informed and involved actors in their community. In addition to our historical work, we also host discussions with people involved in current issues such as access to housing, preserving space for artists’ studios, appreciation of architectural heritage, and the celebration of cultural diversity.
For the past 15 years, we have offered a program of walking tours each summer – including our popular exploration of private gardens – and each winter a series of monthly talks at the Mordecai Richler Mile End Library on a variety of themes. Our original research on the history of the neighbourhood feeds into talks, tours, and this web site, with its interactive map which explores the histories of many buildings. Two books published in 2017 (in French) incorporated our research: Histoire du Mile End by Yves Desjardins (Septentrion), and Dictionnaire historique du Plateau-Mont-Royal by Justin Bur, Yves Desjardins, Jean-Claude Robert, Bernard Vallée, and Joshua Wolfe (Écosociété).
We frequently work with our colleagues at the Société d’histoire du Plateau-Mont-Royal and other community groups such as the Comité des citoyens du Mile End and Amis du Champ des possibles; we participate in Jane’s Walks, Journées de la Culture, Festival Phénomena, Mile End en fleurs, and the Marché des Possibles. With partners, we organized two events for the celebrations of Montreal’s 375th anniversary, Viaduc 375 and a series of 25 walking tours on the Plateau. The library is not only our event venue but also a partner in literary events such as the Historical and Literary Tour (first offered during Blue Metropolis in 2015) and the Human Library, a day of oral history exchanges held in 2013 and 2015.
In November 2018, the MNA for Mercier, Ruba Ghazal, awarded a Medal of the National Assembly to Mile End Memories for the organization’s efforts in enhancing our collective memory.
Mile End is one of the neighbourhoods synonymous with Montreal’s diversity and creativity. The area has evolved and changed ceaselessly throughout its two centuries of history; you could say that the only constant thing over time has been change itself. Known at the beginning of the 19th century for its limestone quarries that built the greystone façades of the great buildings of Old Montreal, Mile End was a place to stop for a drink at the tavern by 1810 and to watch the horse races. The first church, Saint-Enfant-Jésus, was inaugurated at Christmas 1858. The railway that cuts across the area was opened in 1876, including of course a Mile End station. The village of Saint-Louis-du-Mile-End was incorporated in 1878, became the town of Saint-Louis in 1895, and merged with the city of Montreal on 1 January 1910.
A district of small modest houses but also of great mansions for the wealthy, site of a huge exhibition grounds, of major clothing factories, piano works, streetcar shops and woodlots, early 20th-century Mile End was a dynamic and varied place. Already shared between francophones and anglophones, Catholics and Protestants, the neighborhood became the heart of the Montreal Jewish community for about 30 years before becoming home to new Montrealers of many origins, Italian, Greek, Portuguese and others. It has always benefited from the lively traffic of Saint-Laurent Boulevard, Montreal’s (and Mile End’s) “Main”, designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1996. After a downturn in the 1960s and 70s, the neighbourhood picked itself up to become a harmonious, original, artistic, musical, friendly and energetic place, at home in the heart of the metropolis of Montreal.
Partner of the Laboratoire d’histoire et de patrimoine de Montréal (UQAM)
Member of the Fédération des sociétés d’histoire du Québec
Member of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network
Mile End Memories was founded in 2003 as an association; among the founders were Susan Bronson, Janis Zubalik, and Aldo Marchini. In 2011 it was incorporated as a non-profit organization.
The current directors are a small group of avid Mile Enders having a variety of backgrounds: urban planning, architecture, history, journalism, literature, philosophy and teaching. In 2020–2021, the directors are Justin Bur, Yves Desjardins, Melanie Groh, Melissa Lavictoire, Melanie Leavitt, Nathalie Tremblay, and Joshua Wolfe.
Major revisions of this page: January 2015; November 2018.