Along the Lachine Canal
the Lachine Canal, you can discover some of the oldest neighbourhoods of the city, the only ones outside the faubourgs east of Old Montréal (now the Village) that were massively built back when horses ruled the streets. As in the Village, there are still carriage gates that lead into stables. This was before the very British urban concept of alleys was introduced, in the second half of the 19th century.
The redevelopment of Griffintown profoundly transformed Notre-Dame St. which had been the area’s main commercial artery in the 19th century. This was preceded by the restructuring of Little-Burgundy, which had largely gentrified the neighbourhood. It’s where the black Anglophone community was concentrated in the early 20th century, and the birthplace of Montréal’s jazz scene. Also, the redevelopment of the outskirts of the canal south of Notre-Dame further transformed the artery where antique dealers elected residence. Cafés, restaurants and trendy bars began appearing, breathing new life into Notre-Dame St. This renewal stretches to the limits of the downtown area, Peel St. and down at Atwater market in Saint-Henri.
In Pointe-St-Charles, you should definitely visit the Saint-Gabriel house. It’s one of the rare 17th century buildings still standing on the island of Montréal, and the oldest farm house as well. Built by François Le Ber around 1660, this beautiful home hosted the King’s daughters until the year 1673. It was also used as a sewing room and small school. The house was largely destroyed by fire in 1693; only the creamery and the outhouse where untouched by the flames. In 1698, it was rebuilt on the foundations of the original buildings’. Today the house is a museum reminding us of Montréal’s lifestyle during the New France era.
Many people of the gay community have chosen to elect residence in Verdun, south of the canal. First in Ile-des-Soeurs, where many artists and creators moved into the new housing developments along the river. Then others moved to the very heart of Verdun, a former suburb now annexed to Montréal, attracted by the affordable prices. This has largely contributed to revitalizing of Wellington St., the main commercial artery of the neighbourhood.