Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Mile End - The coming of the railway

The transcontinental railway gave Mile End its first growth spurt and separate identity. In 1876, the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway – a project vigorously promoted by Antoine Labelle and Louis Beaubien – came slicing through the area on its way from east-end Montreal to Sainte-Thérèse, Lachute, and Ottawa. This railway was bought in 1882 by the Canadian Pacific, and it was by this route that the first trains departed for the Prairies in 1885 and for Port Moody, British Columbia in June 1886 (extending to Vancouver in 1887). 

The first Mile End station building was erected in 1877 on the east side of Saint-Laurent Road, near what is now the intersection of Bernard Street. (A much larger station was built in 1911; it closed in 1931, when service was moved to the new Park Avenue Station (Jean-Talon), and was demolished in 1970 to make way for the Rosemont–Van Horne viaduct.)

In 1878, the village of Saint-Louis-du-Mile-End was incorporated, population 1319. Its territory consisted of the western third of Côte Saint-Louis: bounded on the west by the limit of Outremont (generally along Hutchison Street), on the south by what is now Mont-Royal Avenue, and on the east by a line running mostly just east of the current Henri-Julien Avenue. The northern border was north of present-day De Castelnau Street or just south of Jarry Park.


The second growth spurt of Mile End coincided with the introduction of electric tramway service in 1893; the area can be considered an example of a streetcar suburb. The agricultural and industrial exhibition grounds at the southwest of the village, near Mount Royal, were subdivided in 1899 for housing. The village became a town in 1895 and changed its name to simply Saint-Louis. Apart from a tiny street located just outside the town's northwestern limit, and (for its remaining years) the railway station, the name Mile End passed out of the official toponymy for close to a century, coming back into use as a municipal electoral district only in 1982.

The town of Saint-Louis built in 1905 a magnificent town hall on the northwest corner of Saint-Laurent and what is now Laurier Avenue; the building still serves as a fire hall and firefighters' museum. The town was annexed by the expanding city of Montreal on 29 May 1909,[20] taking effect as of 1 January 1910, and became Laurier Ward (quartier Laurier). Population growth had been explosive: in 1891, the village had 3537 residents; in 1911, after annexation, the ward's population was about 37,000.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mile End

Nineteenth-century maps and other documents show the name Mile End as the crossroads at Saint-Laurent Road (now Boulevard) and what is now Mont-Royal Avenue. Originally, this road was Côte Sainte-Catherine Road (heading west) and Tanneries Road (heading east). It is probable that the name Mile End was inspired by the East London suburb of the same name. 

Contrary to popular belief, the place is not precisely a mile away from any official marker. It is, however, a mile north along Saint-Laurent from Sherbrooke Street, which in the early 19th century marked the boundary between the urban area and open countryside. (Several decades later, the Mile End train station near Bernard Street was situated coincidentally one more mile north along Saint-Laurent from the original crossroads.)


Mile End was also the first important crossroads north of the tollgate set up in 1841 at the city limits of 1792. From the crossroads to the city limits the distance was 0.4 miles (0.64 km). The city limits were located 100 chains (1.25 miles or about 2 km) north of the fortification wall, and intersected Saint-Laurent just south of the current Duluth Avenue.

As early as 1810, there was a Mile End Hotel and tavern, operated by Stanley Bagg, an American-born entrepreneur and father of the wealthy landowner Stanley Clark Bagg. The earliest known published references to Mile End are advertisements placed by Stanley Bagg, in both English and French, in The Gazette during the summer of 1815. He announced in July: "Farm for sale at St. Catherine [i.e., Outremont], near Mile End Tavern, about two miles from town...". On 7 August, he inserted the following:

STRAYED or STOLEN from the Pasture of Stanley Bagg, Mile End Tavern, on or about the end of June last, a Bay HORSE about ten years old, white face, and some white about the feet. Any person who will give information where the Thief or Horse may be found shall receive a reward of TEN DOLLARS and all reasonable charges paid. STANLEY BAGG. Montreal, Mile End, August 4, 1815.


A photograph of 1859 shows members of the Montreal Hunt Club at the Mile End tavern.

The road variously known as Chemin des Tanneries (Tannery Road), Chemin des Carrières (Quarry Road), or Chemin de la Côte-Saint-Louis led to a tannery and to limestone quarries used for the construction of much of Montreal's architecture. 

The village of Côte Saint-Louis (incorporated 1846) sprung up near the quarries, its houses clustered east of the Mile End district around the present-day intersection of Berri Street and Laurier Avenue. 



It was to serve this village that a chapel of the Infant Jesus was established in 1848 near Saint Lawrence Road, on land donated by Pierre Beaubien. In 1857-8, the chapel was replaced by the church of Saint Enfant Jésus du Mile End. 

The church, made even more impressive by a new façade in 1901-3, was the first important building in what would become Mile End.