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.