Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Mile End - James McCready and Company


James McCready & Co. was founded in 1867 by James, Robert and Thomas McCready who were leather merchants. The company was located on rue Saint-Paul near Saint-Pierre. In 1869, James and Robert left the partnership and started separate businesses. Thomas brought his son into the business and renamed the company McCready & Son, while James founded the shoe factory of Mullarky & McCready, which settled on rue Sainte-Hélène.

In 1871, J.& R. McCready was created, a new partnership between James and Robert. In 1878, the business was renamed James McCready & Company and moved to William Street. James and Robert remained the sole owners until 1882, when Charles Francis Smith became a partner. In 1883, the company moved its offices and factory into larger premises of a building, built by Michel Laurent for the Grey Nuns on rue d’Youville, who also rented space to a grocery wholesaler, a transport company and to the Commissioners of the Port of Montreal in the same building. James McCready occupied space here for about 20 years.

James McCready & Company was considered one of Montreal’s major factories, producing 12,000 to 15,000 pairs of boots and shoes for men, women and children per week, which was considerable at the time. In 1906 Arthur Congdon, a wholesale boot and shoe merchant from Winnipeg amalgamated with the James McCready Company. He became Vice-President and General Manager of Ames, Holden, McCready Limited in 1911, and organized Congdon, Marsh Limited (wholesale boots and shoes) in 1914.

In 1915, Ames, Holden, McCready Ltd., then being Canada’s largest shoe manufacturers, received an order from the Government for footwear for officers and soldiers here in Canada and in England. Within thirty-three days they supplied 32,217 pairs of leather ankle boots and 30,000 pairs of canvas shoes, the largest quantity of footwear supplied by any manufacturer.

An article in the Montreal Gazette, Saturday, May 15, 1915 stated that ”these boots were worn by our soldiers on active service, and that they were subjected to the most severe usage. They travelled over rough roads, they waded through mud and slush, they were soaked by the never-ceasing rains of an abnormally wet English winter and, yet, THEY STOOD THE TEST”

Other tenants in this building were the Montreal Suspender and Umbrella Manufacturing Co. (from 1903 to 1955) and the Golden Gate Manufacturing Co., a manufacturer of bottling machines (from 1911 to 1963). From 1963 on the building was gradually abandoned. In 1977 the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation purchased the building and undertook major renovations. The two upper floors were converted into social housing and the lower floors were rented to various organizations, including the Maison Jean Lapointe and the Musée Marc-Aurèle-

The building is located at 355-367, rue d’Youville & rue St. Pierre in Old Montreal.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Village De Lorimier - The Plateau Stampede

It's not just Calgary that has its "stampede" ... the Plateau has its own! In 1926, the race track of "Delorimier Park" hosts a rodeo worthy of the Far West.

Horse racing is still popular in Montreal, the territory of the Plateau has housed over time several racetracks. These had to relocate as the urbanization of the neighborhood progressed. 

We are here at the Montreal Driving Club Co. Ltd, which first ran its horses at the corner of Mount Royal and Boyer; to move to where Baldwin Park is today, during the years 1901 to 1907. Subsequently, the track moved further north on a lot of land bordered by Des Érables, Masson, Fullum and Mont-Royal streets. 

At the end of the thirties, the track of "Blue Bonnets" becomes very popular and our district develops very quickly. After the start of the race track, this vast area is subsequently occupied in part by a first construction trade school. Later, a new trade school is built and the southern part of the land is occupied by the Lucie-Bruneau Rehabilitation Center. As for our "stampede" featured this week, we see a race of "shopping carriages", "chuck wagons", which use a team with three horses installed in "crossbow" (two on the sides and one more in front center). These shows, which were filmed in the major North American cities, were full of urban audiences a little out of place in this reminder of the time of the great discoveries of the plains of the West. 

The track usually hosts mostly "trot and amble" races (with sulky) but also during motor racing.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Mile End - Fletcher's Field

Jeanne-Mance Park


sledding at Fletcher's Field


The park was previously known as Fletcher's Field. According to local tradition, the park was named after one Fletcher, who lived on the outskirts of the grounds and pastured his cows there.

The history of the park began at the end of the 19th century with the planning of Mount Royal Park and the city's acquisition of land on Mount Royal, which ran from the summit of the mountain to Esplanade Avenue, between Pine Avenue and Mount Royal Avenue. 

In 1878, Montreal's Crystal Palace was relocated to Fletcher's Field. 

The structure was destroyed by fire in July 1896. In 1879, Fletcher's Field was identified by the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain as a notable source of Hyoscyamus niger, a psychoactive plant.

The park used as a military parade ground, as was Logan's Farm (now part of La Fontaine Park). During the Great War, troops were trained on Fletcher's Field. The Montreal Lacrosse Club and Royal Montreal Golf Club (as well as youth lacrosse and football clubs) also used Fletcher's Field.

In September 1910, during the Montreal Eucharistic Congress, there was a campaign to rename the park in recognition of the founder of the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal. The city of Montreal officially changed the name of the park to Jeanne Mance Park in 1990. 

The plaza entrance of Jeanne Mance Park opposite the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Monument is affectionately known as Place Fletcher's Field, serving as a reminder of the park's former name.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Mile End - Saint Joseph Boulevard (from another time)

Boulevard Saint-Joseph is the news these days with his adventures tumultuous and icy; but he has already known calmer days. This photograph of the early 1940s shows us in her beautiful summer attire. 


We immediately note the rows of mature trees
which provide a beneficial shading for pedestrians. Further, the trees leave place to a generous lawn turf and planted with shrubs. Henri-Julien Street is actually the border between Ville Saint-Louis and the village of Coteau Saint-Louis, which will later become the Saint-Denis district. 

In 1905, it is the architect and engineer J.E. Vanier who proposes to the Ville Saint-Louis to transform St. Joseph Street into prestigious boulevard, the first in Montreal. We remember that at the time it was third largest city in Quebec. Montreal will then extend the boulevard to the east, but without the trees. 

This path will eventually be widened at the beginning of 1960s.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Mile End - The Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace - 1866
The Crystal Palace was an exhibition hall built for the Montreal Industrial Exhibition of 1860, originally located at the foot of Victoria Street (one block west of University) between Sainte-Catherine and Cathcart Streets, then relocated to Fletcher's Field. It was used for temporary exhibitions, and in winter, housed an ice skating rink.

The building was designed by Montreal architect John William Hopkins. It had an iron framework, a tinned barrel-vaulted nave and two galleries, each twenty feet wide, extending all the way around the interior. Its design was inspired by The Crystal Palace in London. Its main facades were of iron and glass. Its side walls were of white brick with rose-coloured contrast, with the iron and wood elements painted to match the brick. Its bays were subdivided by three arches, with only the centre arch glazed. Constructed in 20-foot modules, the Crystal Palace was intended to be 180 x 200 feet, but was constructed with shorter transepts, reducing its dimensions to 180 x 120 feet.

The Industrial Exhibition displayed agricultural and industrial products from the then British North America. The displays ranged from minerals, native woods, seeds and grains, preserved birds and fish, oils and foodstuffs to textiles and leather goods, furniture, clothing, machinery, iron work, tools and crafts. As part of the exhibition the Art Association of Montreal, the future Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, organized a display of Canadian art. The Prince of Wales visited Montreal that year and officially opened the exhibition.


The Prince of Wales at Opening Night 1860

The large open space of the exhibition hall was suitable for other uses. In later years, the hall would house a natural ice skating rink in the winter, and was one of the first indoor skating rinks in Canada. The skating rink was used by McGill University students to play ice hockey and the rink is the site of the first known photograph of ice hockey players in hockey uniforms, taken in 1881.

The rink also housed the Crystal Skating Club and Crystal Hockey Club, more commonly known as the Montreal Crystals which played men's senior-level amateur hockey in the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada.


In 1878 it was dismantled and moved to Fletcher's Field, part of which is now known as Jeanne-Mance Park. In July 1896, the Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire, as London's original Crystal Palace would be. The site of the Crystal Palace, between Mont-Royal Avenue and Saint-Joseph Boulevard, was developed for housing a few years after the fire.

The original downtown location later was home to the Palace Theatre, a movie house, and today contains an alley named Ruelle Palace.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Mile End - United Dairy

This charming building, built in 1933, bears witness to the past presence of many small dairies in the area. The development of the dairy processing activity is explained by the proximity of the railway coupled with the dramatic growth of the urban population in the early 20th century.

From the late 19th century Quebec agriculture specializes to milk production. Due to urbanization, industrialization and the development of transport, this activity is no longer simply a rural activity, it is also developing in the city. Milk becomes an industrialized product destined to supply cities.

United Dairy received the milk from the countryside along the lines of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the Laurentians and Montérégie, and then transformed it. Inside the building were bottling and pasteurization, butter making, bottle washing and storage.


Robert Brettschneider, of Polish Jewish origin, arrived in Canada in 1926. He brought the following year his wife Bessie and his younger brother Osias. In 1930 Robert Brettschneider founded with Jacob Rottermund the dairy United Dairy. It will have a short and eventful story.

The dairy starts in rented premises, a backyard house at 5244-5246 Casgrain Avenue. In 1933, it moved to a new custom-built building. However, constantly struggling with the authorities and with the complaints of its competitors (for example, selling milk to a distributor below the official price of the Dairy Commission, use of glass bottles belonging to other dairies, change in the fat content in milk, and even the sale of shares of the dairy without going through a securities broker), the United Dairy is condemned in court repeatedly: in April 1938, the newspapers echo his nineteenth sentence, with a fine of $ 1,000. The dairy declares bankruptcy shortly thereafter.

Robert Brettschneider does not admit defeat: he incorporates (only) a new company, the Snowdon Dairy, in September 1938. He can stay in the former premises of the United, thanks to a friend who buys the building in the sale of bankruptcy, selling it to him a few years later. The dairy will do business until it is closed in 1954 - a time that is the height of the Jewish migration from Mile End to Snowdon. From 1953 to 1958, the building also housed the offices of a milk distributor, North End Milk Distribution, apparently the last activity related to the dairy industry in this building.

During his retirement, Brettschneider serves as president of the congregation Shomrim Laboker, recently moved to a modern building in the Snowdon neighborhood. He oversaw two mergers with other congregations in 1957 and 1959. He also got involved in other projects such as a clothes shop with a son and real estate investments with a son-in-law, to whom he sold the building of the old Dairy in 1963. He died in 1966, leaving behind his wife, five children, and his brother's family.