Sherbrooke: “Forming a Government of Their Own”

The immense requirements of the Napoleonic Wars entailed more than Britain could furnish itself. To meet the deficit it turned, unasked and unwanted, to  the press-ganging of delinquent subjects, so it thought, now declared American citizens, so they thought. Inevitably President Madison found this most provoking and declared war with Britain on 18 June 1812. It took […]

Hélène Boullé Signs a Pre-Nup: Ile-Sainte-Hélène (now Jean-Drapeau)

On 27 December 1610, Hélène Boullé unexpectedly signed a pre-nuptial agreement with the explorer and inveterate gardener, Samuel de Champlain. She was twelve and in the confusion following the assassination of Henri IV she and the other Protestants of France were without a royal protector. So too were Champlain’s ventures in Canada. The marriage was completed in […]

Mont-Royal

Mont-Royal. Opened 1966. Architect: Victor Prus. Artworks: vertical bands by Charles Daudelin and mural by Les Industries perdues. The Time and Place The Archive Summer 1535 – Hochelaga – Jacques Cartier visits the Huron village of Hochelaga and names the mountain nearby “Mont-Royal”  [In] the middle of these fields is situated and stands the village […]

Papineau receives a flawed argument

In 1835, Lord Glenelg, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, offered perhaps the most hilarious argument for not reforming the constitution of Lower Canada. 69. It must be recollected that the form of Provincial Constitution in question is no modern experiment or plan of government, in favor of which nothing better than doubtful theory […]

Plamondon Updates His Status and the First Fête du Saint Jean-Baptiste

On 10 June 1836, Le Canadien published what might be considered the nineteenth-century equivalent of a status update. “M. Plamondon, artist, respectfully informs the public and his friends, that at the request of the many of the finest citizens of Montreal, he must leave Québec to practice in that city for for several weeks.” Of […]

Papineau and the Cholera Epidemic of 1832

With the arrival of cholera in Montreal in June 1832, many people left the city for the country to escape the disease. Papineau though decided to stay. Here, he writes to his wife, Julie, at her temporary lodgings at Verchéres, northwest of the island, of domestic matters – lemons, crackers, and work on a property […]

From St Michel, General Amherst’s Spruce Beer

When an unknown farmer in the 1760s named the road from the centre of the island to Récollets land on the rapids in the rivière de Prairies the montée St Michel, the patron saint of warriors and suffering, he made an apt choice; between the fall of Acadie to the British in 1755 and the […]

Pie-IX

Some days are better than others, and 19 September 1967 was more hectic than most. I am bringing together my notes on Pie-IX, the large north-south boulevard towards the east of the island that Montrealers most likely associate with the wonder, both financial and architectural, that is our Olympic stadium. In 1967, at the height of the […]

St Laurent

Apologies once again for the infrequent posts. Looming penury at the beginning of the year has been happily solved by a good deal of teaching; alas, this means less time for history! The project does continue, albeit slowly, and at this stage I am reviewing, editing the existing stations. This post improves on one element […]

From St Michel, General Amherst’s Spruce Beer

This post has been updated to correct various writing errors. You can read the updated post here. When an unknown farmer in the 1760s named the road from the centre of the island to the Récollets land at the rapids in the rivière de Prairies “montée St Michel”, he made an apt choice. The archangel […]

Verdun

When I set out for Canada in December 2011, my friend Charlotte, hungover from a ‘Spurs victory the day before, asked me over a diet coke in a London pub, where I would be living in Montreal. “Verdun,” I replied, which led to brief but uninformed remarks about Canadian involvement in World War I. Uninformed […]

Crémazie

The bookstore is dead, or so we are told, displaced by Amazon, and hollowed out by the parasitic succubi of the coffeeshop and the home accessory. The bookstore is reborn, or so we are told, its managers displaced by passionate hipsters, curators of ideas in print, gatherers of writers, and hosts of events. Some bookstores […]