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Discuss Why St. Lawrence Boulevard Is the Main of Montreal

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Midterm Exam

ARTH 298M

Discuss why St. Lawrence Boulevard is the Main of Montreal

Meagan Charette

40002290


In Montreal, the Saint-Lawrence Boulevard, often referred to as “the Main”, holds tremendous history. In fact, it is the first street in Montreal to cross from one side of the island to the other1. The boulevard starts in the old port by the Saint-Lawrence River and crosses the island to the other end at which we find the Ahuntsic village at the bank of rivière-des-prairies.

The Saint-Lawrence Boulevard’s starting point, the old Montreal, is an important site because it is the oldest area and the starting place of the whole history of the island of Montreal2. It was first established in the 17th century by French settlers but quickly grew into a fortified town in the 18th century3. The Saint-Lawrence Boulevard was given its name and expanded passed the old port at the destruction of this fortified town4. Later on, the Saint-Lawrence Boulevard also became a dividing line between the eastern and western halves of Montreal. The French settled in the eastern part whereas the English settled on the western part5. Furthermore, the Saint-Lawrence Boulevard also served as new homes for many incoming immigrants5. Part of this history is demonstrated by China town where today we find many Chinese restaurants but which used to be an area where the Chinese immigrants would establish themselves.

The old Montreal and China town are not the only places along the Saint-Lawrence Boulevard which hold an important place in the history of Montreal. In fact, there are many other monuments and districts that tell us a story about the city’s past. For example, the national monument which was built in 1834 and inspired by roman architecture can be found on the west side of the Boulevard6. This building was originally the cultural center of the saint-Baptiste

1 Lesson 5: Introduction Video Clip

2 Lesson 3: Old Montreal Video Clip

3 Marsan, 15 & 23

4 Lesson 5: Fortifications Lane Video Clip

5 Lesson 5: Introduction Video Clip

6 Lesson 5: Monument Nationale Video Clip

society and was used to protect the French language7. Another example is the “red light district”, found at the corner of Sainte-Catherine Street and the Saint-Lawrence Boulevard which was the first “hot spot” of its kind, although today, it has been rebuilt into a more cultural area7.

As we move further down the Saint-Lawrence Boulevard, the architecture of the buildings start to change, which is also telling a story of its own. The City House Furnishing building built in 1911, for example, was constructed with different materials which completely changed the speed at which the buildings can be completed8. Furthermore, the “maison coloniale” built in 1990 by the architect Jacques Rousseau is the first cotemporary modeled house to be built in Montreal, although at the time there was complaints of its design not fitting with the rest of the neighborhood9.  

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