In 1625, Nicolas Viel, a French missionary member of the Récollets (a reformed branch of the Franciscans) and his friend Ahuntsic, a young Frenchman living the Amerindian way of life, died in the rapids of the Rivière des Prairies. In memory of them, the site was called "Sault-au-Récollet".
The Sulpicians, who arrived in Montreal in 1657 and were Seigneurs of Montreal until the English Conquest, developed the Sault-au-Récollet area. In 1726, a man named Simon Sicard built a dike for them between the island of Montreal and Île-de-la-Visitation. Two years later, there were already three mills in use at the Sault-au-Récollet: two flour mills and one sawmill.
In the 1830s, the Sulpicians began to sell their mills to different owners. New kinds of mills were built at the Sault-au-Récollet: a nail mill and a mill to card and to full wool. At the beginning of the 1870s, the production of leatherboard started at the mills site.
During the 20th century, the Sault-au-Récollet's mills were owned by three companies, the Dominion Leather Board Company, the Black River Company and the Milmont Fiberboard Company.
These companies produced mainly leatherboard and fiberboard. During the Second World War, the mills served to make shell packaging.
In 1981, the Montréal Urban Community (MUC) acquired the site. They tore down most of the buildings, but they kept remains of the mills, the dike and the Maison du Meunier. Today, there is a museum on site, Cité Historia, where visitors can learn about the rich history of the Sault-au-Récollet.
©2016 Linda Sullivan-Simpson
The Past Whispers
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