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 […]

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 […]

Université de Montréal

The tower of the of the Univerisité de Montréal’s Pavillion Roger Gaudry is one of the more imposing structures on the north side of Mount-Royal, an ivory tower in all but substance. This week, thanks to William Ralliant Clark of the university’s press office, and Diane Baillargeon and Monique Voyer, both of the university’s archives, I […]

Plamondon

It often seems that art in Canada did not begin until the early twentieth century, as if the innovations of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven were painting itself and that before their depiction of Algonquin forests, wealthy Montrealers and Quebec’s devout lived in colonial or forgotten exile surrounded by walls as white as […]

Atwater

At first glance, Atwater seems to tell the dullest history on the metro system. Edwin Atwater emigrated from Vermont in 1830; established himself with his brother, Albert, as a painter and varnisher in Montreal; went on to establish factories and and telegraph companies as well as managing banks through various financial crises (yes, they had […]

D’Iberville

After the predations of Frontenac and Cadillac, New France could be forgiven for looking for an honest man; in Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville et d’Ardillères it almost found one. In career characterized by ruthlessness and fleeing Englishmen, Iberville’s military success in the Hudson Bay, New York, Newfoundland, Louisiana, and the West Indies covered a multitude […]

Berri-UQAM, formerly Berri-de Montigny

Originally opened as Berri-de Montigny, this station had its feet firmly planted in New France, until in 1988, it took in the university which is one of the products and symbols of the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s. For all this though, the origins of Berri is unclear. In 1989 the Tour toponymique noted that […]

Charlevoix

Remembered by Voltaire his former student at the Collège Louis-le-Grand for being a “bit longwinded”, the great philosophe bought all the books of Pierre-François-Xavier Charlevoix, not least his Histoire et description de la Nouvelle France. Coming in at 3 substantial volumes, it is the journey and observations of a teacher, editor, and priest venturing into […]

Cadillac

History has been kind to Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, his fame and crest borne on the high-end cars built in the city he founded. It has no reason to be; Cadillac had no respect for history, faked his noble origins, and ensured that whatever scraps may be found about him before […]