Neighbourhood Saint-Henri

History

1535 1825

1535-1825

Tanneries and hillsides

Both Aboriginals and woodsmen (coureurs de bois) had long used what is now the Saint-Henri neighbourhood to bypass the rapids. With colonization, most of the territory was owned by the Grey Nuns religious community and the Society of the Priests of Saint-Sulpice (Sulpicians). Under the French regime, Jean Talon, the first intendant, focused on the establishment of tanneries here - a stopover on the fur trade route. In 1685, the first tannery was opened near the runoff from the Saint-Pierre River, not far from the Saint-Jacques cliff. With its many small streams and its location far from the city, this spot was ideal, limiting the annoyance from the strong odours created by the tanning of skins and hides.

The Lenoir dite Rolland family became one of the area's major leather producers; in fact, the village formed in 1780, with its some half-dozen tanning workshops, was named Tanneries-des-Rolland.

In the early 19th century, the development of a small community with a chapel school, homes, merchants, and artisans lead to the founding in 1813 of a larger village: Saint-Henri-des-Tanneries.

In 1825, more than half the residents made their living in leather-tanning industries and, over time, the small-scale operations grew into large-scale production facilities.

As for the rapids that hindered travel by water, they were bypassed by the Lachine Canal, a navigable waterway, built primarily by Irish immigrants between 1821 and 1825.

1826 1875

1826-1875

The first phase of industrialization: the canal and the railroad

When it was opened in 1825, the Lachine Canal was almost 14 kilometres long with seven locks and stone bridges. It was widened in 1843-48 and then again in 1873-85.

The Montreal & Lachine railroad, opened in 1847, passed through Saint-Henri and provided another means of bypassing the rapids. In 1851, the railroad was renamed Montreal & New York and extended to PlattsburgI serving as a new link with the great metropolis. The Grand Trunk Railroad, opened in 1859, ran through Saint-Henri on its way to Detroit and later Chicago. Many companies chose to locate on the banks of the canal to benefit from its hydraulic power. During the industrial era, the Saint-Henri landscape was gradually transformed from its rural and small-scale beginnings.

The Saint-Henri-des-Tanneries parish was founded in 1867, just a few years before the establishment of the Saint-Henri municipality in 1875. The first English and French churches and schools were opened. Many country people from south-west Quebec were attracted by the jobs available in Saint-Henri-des-Tanneries. Residential areas expanded and two-story brick row houses were built, generally by real-estate developers.

Image : HM_ARC_005163

The old lock at Lachine

© Library and Archives Canada /C-113716 , © Héritage Montréal


1826-1875

The first phase of industrialization: the canal and the railroad

When it was opened in 1825, the Lachine Canal was almost 14 kilometres long with seven locks and stone bridges. It was widened in 1843-48 and then again in 1873-85.

The Montreal & Lachine railroad, opened in 1847, passed through Saint-Henri and provided another means of bypassing the rapids. In 1851, the railroad was renamed Montreal & New York and extended to PlattsburgI serving as a new link with the great metropolis. The Grand Trunk Railroad, opened in 1859, ran through Saint-Henri on its way to Detroit and later Chicago. Many companies chose to locate on the banks of the canal to benefit from its hydraulic power. During the industrial era, the Saint-Henri landscape was gradually transformed from its rural and small-scale beginnings.

The Saint-Henri-des-Tanneries parish was founded in 1867, just a few years before the establishment of the Saint-Henri municipality in 1875. The first English and French churches and schools were opened. Many country people from south-west Quebec were attracted by the jobs available in Saint-Henri-des-Tanneries. Residential areas expanded and two-story brick row houses were built, generally by real-estate developers.

1876 1929

1876-1929

The second phase of industrialization: an incorporated town

The boundaries of the municipality of Saint-Henri were redrawn a few years after its founding. In 1879, it was bordered to the south by the Lachine Canal, to the east by Atwater Avenue, to the north by the escarpment behind Saint Antoine Street, and to the west by Côte-Saint-Paul Road.

Industry continued to thrive, and the Lachine Canal entered its golden age with companies such as the Moseley and Ricker and the Thomas Ecroyd industrial tanneries, Dominion Textile, RCA, William's Sewing Machine, and Canada Malting.

Working conditions were poor, however, and men, women, and children worked long hours for meagre pay. They fought for better conditions, forming unions and participating in the founding of day care centres and charitable organizations offering assistance to the poor.

Burdened by debts linked to its rapid industrialization, Saint-Henri was annexed to the City of Montreal in 1905. The territory became urbanized, benefiting from public utilities such as street lights, a water supply system, a police force, and fire fighters. Businesses, churches, a market, and a few public parks and recreation centres completed the service offer. Land speculation and the resulting population explosion resulted in poor housing conditions and pollution. Members of the middle class had houses built for themselves, mainly surrounding the two squares, while the workers occupied lodgings in two- or three-story brick buildings. Saint-Henri was a world unto itself - a product of the industrial revolution within a growing metropolis.

Image : HM_ARC_005224

Atlas of the City and Island of Montreal Canada, Town of Saint-Henri
1879
45 cm
72 cm
© Dinu Bumbaru / © Héritage Montréal


1876-1929

The second phase of industrialization: an incorporated town

The boundaries of the municipality of Saint-Henri were redrawn a few years after its founding. In 1879, it was bordered to the south by the Lachine Canal, to the east by Atwater Avenue, to the north by the escarpment behind Saint Antoine Street, and to the west by Côte-Saint-Paul Road.

Industry continued to thrive, and the Lachine Canal entered its golden age with companies such as the Moseley and Ricker and the Thomas Ecroyd industrial tanneries, Dominion Textile, RCA, William's Sewing Machine, and Canada Malting.

Working conditions were poor, however, and men, women, and children worked long hours for meagre pay. They fought for better conditions, forming unions and participating in the founding of day care centres and charitable organizations offering assistance to the poor.

Burdened by debts linked to its rapid industrialization, Saint-Henri was annexed to the City of Montreal in 1905. The territory became urbanized, benefiting from public utilities such as street lights, a water supply system, a police force, and fire fighters. Businesses, churches, a market, and a few public parks and recreation centres completed the service offer. Land speculation and the resulting population explosion resulted in poor housing conditions and pollution. Members of the middle class had houses built for themselves, mainly surrounding the two squares, while the workers occupied lodgings in two- or three-story brick buildings. Saint-Henri was a world unto itself - a product of the industrial revolution within a growing metropolis.

Image : HM_ARC_005155

View of Saint-Henri neighborhood

2.5 cm
3.5 cm
© Jean Bélisle, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_005253

Jacques Cartier Monument

13.8 cm
8.6 cm
© Dinu Bumbaru, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_004691

Fountain-sculpture at the Georges-Étienne Cartier square

10.1 cm
15.1 cm
© Direction du développement culturel, Ville de Montréal, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_003554

Dominion Textile Company (St-Ambroise street)
1909
© Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Albums de rues E.-Z. Massicotte – MAS 5-35-a, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_003627

View of the Lachine canal (from a boat)

© Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_004191

Montreal from Street Railway Power House chimney, QC, 1896
1896
20 cm
25 cm
© McCord Museum, © Héritage Montréal


1930 1973

1930-1973

Saint-Henri declines

Following the stock market crash of 1929, a social assistance system was created and many public works, such as the construction of Atwater Market and the combined fire hall/police station, were launched to create jobs. From one of the country's major industrial areas , Saint-Henri had become a neighbourhood in decline. Factories closed and companies moved to newer industrial parks. Workers lost their jobs, and many moved to other neighbourhoods. The opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1959 marked the end of the Lachine Canal as a transportation corridor and a backbone of industrial activity. The canal ceased operations in 1973.

In the 1960's, the demolition of the church and the Saint-Henri College and the construction of the Ville-Marie Expressway and the Turcot Interchange had a devastating impact on the neighbourhood. The Saint-Henri high school, built in a more-or-less brutalist style, was opened. The neighbourhood grew older and poorer but also witnessed the creation of public-minded groups working to protect its quality of life.

Image : HM_ARC_004256

Notre-Dame Street (from the west) from Saint-Henri Street

© Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (P20,S3,P39), © Héritage Montréal


1930-1973

Saint-Henri declines

Following the stock market crash of 1929, a social assistance system was created and many public works, such as the construction of Atwater Market and the combined fire hall/police station, were launched to create jobs. From one of the country's major industrial areas , Saint-Henri had become a neighbourhood in decline. Factories closed and companies moved to newer industrial parks. Workers lost their jobs, and many moved to other neighbourhoods. The opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1959 marked the end of the Lachine Canal as a transportation corridor and a backbone of industrial activity. The canal ceased operations in 1973.

In the 1960's, the demolition of the church and the Saint-Henri College and the construction of the Ville-Marie Expressway and the Turcot Interchange had a devastating impact on the neighbourhood. The Saint-Henri high school, built in a more-or-less brutalist style, was opened. The neighbourhood grew older and poorer but also witnessed the creation of public-minded groups working to protect its quality of life.

Image : HM_ARC_004952

Atwater Market Place
1989-1990
6 cm
6 cm
© Brian Merrett, www.archiguides.com, réf.163X, © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_005535

Fire station 24 and fire fighter's trucks

© Ville de Montréal. Gestion de documents et archives (VM94Z-626-1), © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_005157

Saint-Henri fire station

2.5 cm
3.5 cm
© Jean Bélisle, © Héritage Montréal


1974 2008

1974-2008

A new wind blows through Saint-Henri

In 1974, the federal government designated the Lachine Canal a place of social and cultural importance, and, in 1980, the Place Saint-Henri metro station was inaugurated. At that time, almost 50 percent of the neighbourhood's residents were unemployed.

In 1989, the creation of RESO (a group devoted to the economic and social revitalization of the south-west) along with the involvement of unions and business and community groups lead to a series of actions aiming to create jobs, improve facilities and housing access, and enhance the quality of life of residents.

The 1992 urban development plan consolidated the industrial role of the Lachine Canal. The neighbourhood welcomed companies such as Johnson Wire Works, RCA Victor, the McAuslan Microbrewery, Domtex, and the Saint-Henri transport centre as well as a cultural industry (artists, photographers, artisans, and film producers).

Designated the Lachine Canal National Historic Site in 1996, the canal and its surrounding area have been revitalized with the help of both public and private investments. Today, Saint-Henri is both an urban recreational area close to the downtown core and a pleasant working-class neighbourhood. It continues its renewal efforts both to satisfy the aspirations of its existing residents and to attract new resident workers.

Image : HM_ARC_003372

Sketch of Place-Saint-Henri metro station (south entrance)
1974
© Fonds de Commission de transport de Montréal, Archives de la STM (Promenade Janvier 1974), © Héritage Montréal


1974-2008

A new wind blows through Saint-Henri

In 1974, the federal government designated the Lachine Canal a place of social and cultural importance, and, in 1980, the Place Saint-Henri metro station was inaugurated. At that time, almost 50 percent of the neighbourhood's residents were unemployed.

In 1989, the creation of RESO (a group devoted to the economic and social revitalization of the south-west) along with the involvement of unions and business and community groups lead to a series of actions aiming to create jobs, improve facilities and housing access, and enhance the quality of life of residents.

The 1992 urban development plan consolidated the industrial role of the Lachine Canal. The neighbourhood welcomed companies such as Johnson Wire Works, RCA Victor, the McAuslan Microbrewery, Domtex, and the Saint-Henri transport centre as well as a cultural industry (artists, photographers, artisans, and film producers).

Designated the Lachine Canal National Historic Site in 1996, the canal and its surrounding area have been revitalized with the help of both public and private investments. Today, Saint-Henri is both an urban recreational area close to the downtown core and a pleasant working-class neighbourhood. It continues its renewal efforts both to satisfy the aspirations of its existing residents and to attract new resident workers.

Image : HM_ARC_004824

Bird-eye view of the Lachine canal

© Société du Vieux-Port de Montréal Inc. © Héritage Montréal


Image : HM_ARC_005156

RCA Victor studios

2.5 cm
3.5 cm
© Jean Bélisle, © Héritage Montréal