Westmount Park

Westmount Park, created in 1898

local history

The Westmount Historical Association was founded in 1944 to encourage public awareness of Westmount’s history and to promote research into the area’s social and cultural development. In 1995, the WHA became a provincially registered charitable organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.

A View of Their Own: The Story of Westmount 

Aline Gubbay’s seminal book about Westmount was published in 1998. It has served as an inspiration and source of information for many of us. In the intervening years, new research has been carried out. In particular, many details about the early French farms have been revised. Please click “The Hurtubise House” on the left hand menu of this page and the “Early French Farmhouse on Côte St. Antoine Road” on the Photos page for more information.

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The Westmount Heritage Study 

The Westmount Heritage Study was carried out by the architectural firm
Beaupré et Michaud in 1988. Westmount: a heritage to
preserve
, a condensed version of it, contains a wealth
of information about the city’s history and noteworthy architecture.
The complete version is in the reference section of Westmount Public
Library.

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municipal status & mayors

To view the ‘Municipal Status & Mayors’ timeline click below.

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westmount heritage sites

PARKS CANADA: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada

Trafalgar Lodge, 1848:
Designated in 1990
An asymmetrical one-and-half storey brick villa; a rare example of a Gothic Revival villa in Quebec.

Westmount Train Station, 1907:
Recognised as a Heritage Railway Station in 1994.

Church of Saint-Léon-de-Westmount, 1901:
Designated a National Historical Site in 1997.

Atwater Library of the Mechanics’ Institute of Montreal, 1920:
Designated a National Historic Site in 2005.
The home of the first Mechanics’ Institute in Canada (established 1828) and the oldest subscription library in Canada; the last Mechanics’ Institute building in Canada serving its original purpose.

City of Westmount, incorporated 1874:
Designated a National Historic Site in 2005.
The historic district of Westmount epitomises the architectural styles and trends in landscape architecture of 1890 to 1930; it reflects the efforts of local citizens who, from the early 20th century onwards, sought to protect the diversity and historic integrity of the district’s built environment.

PROVINCIAL:

Motherhouse of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame, 1906-08:
Designated an Historical Site in 1977.

Braemar House, 1847:
Recognised as an Historic Monument in 1984.

Hurtubise House, 1739:
Classified as an Historic Monument and Site in 2004.

Summit Woods:
Is part of the Mount Royal Heritage Site Designated as a Natural and Historic District Arrondissement of Mount Royal in 2005.

MUNICIPAL:

Glen Viaduct:
Heritage plaque installed by the Westmount Historical Association and the City of Westmount in 2013. Designated a heritage site by Westmount City Council in 2017.

westmount firsts

FIRSTS IN THE CITY OF WESTMOUNT:
First significant municipal project: the Glen Viaduct south of St. Catherine Street. 1892
First park: Victoria Jubilee Park (today’s Westmount Park). 1898
First woman elected Mayor: May Cutler. 1987
First wedding officiated in City Hall. 2007

FIRSTS IN QUEBEC, CANADA, OR THE GREATER WORLD:
Among the first cities in the world with an electrically-lit Christmas tree. 1896
First indoor rink in the world built specifically for hockey (privately owned – corner of St. Catherine and Wood).1898
First free public library in Quebec: Westmount Public Library. 1899
First municipally-built community centre in Quebec: Victoria Hall. 1899
First in Quebec to generate electricity by burning garbage. 1906
First municipally-funded children’s library in in the British Empire: (in) Westmount Public Library. 1911
First in Canada to adopt a City Manager form of government. 1913
First in Canada to create a local Architectural and Planning Board. 1916
First NHL hockey game played at the Arena at the corner of Ste-Catherine St. and Wood Ave. 1917
First pipe organ in a public community centre in Canada (no longer in place). 1926
First outdoor floral clock in North America. 1926
First in Canada to build and operate a powered snow melter. 1927
First in Canada to register its municipal coat-of-arms in Scotland. 1945
First in the world to adopt a raised hand symbol as a ‘do not walk’ pedestrian sign. 1959
First bilingual military unit in Canada: Royal Montreal Regiment. Since 1914, and officially since 1968
First in Montreal to establish a municipal ambulance service (no longer in place). 1975
First in Quebec to require sprinkler systems in new buildings. 1987
First in Quebec to adopt ‘pay-as-you-go’ financing. 1994
First to pass anti-pesticide bylaw in Montreal. 1994
First in Quebec to install battery disposal sites. 1994
First in the world to build underground ice hockey rinks: Westmount Recreation Centre. 2013

Note:
This list was compiled for our lecture “Firsts in Westmount” in the Spring of 2014. It is an evolving document, and your input is welcomed. Please email us with your comments or suggestions.

the hurtubise house

The Hurtubise House (1739), Westmount’s oldest house:
The Hurtubise House at 563 Côte Saint Antoine Road is the oldest building in Westmount. It was constructed in 1739 for Jean Hurtubise, son of Louis Hurtubise who in 1699 was granted the concession on Côte Saint Antoine Road at the corner of Victoria Avenue. The lot extended from Côte des Neiges Road to south of Sainte Catherine Street.

The facade
The facade:
Many original features of this 1739 Quebec farmhouse remain today. These include the exterior stone walls with cut stone window openings, the fireplace with bake oven and the stone sink in the kitchen, the 2 ventilation holes and the cedar beams in the cellar, and the roof structure with wooden dowels and trusses in the attic.
The fireplace
The fireplace with bake oven:
The dressed stone fireplace in the kitchen was used for cooking meals and baking bread. The bake oven required a deep foundation for the chimney on the east side of the house. The oven was demolished when the annex was added in the 1870`s. The inside opening to the oven is now bricked up.
The stone sink
The stone sink:
The original stone sink was used for washing vegetables. It had a wooden plug and drained outside directly under the window. Water was carried inside from both a well behind the house and a pump on the west side.
The brick annex:
The brick annex:
In the 1870’s a brick annex was added on the eastern side of the house to accommodate the extended Hurtubise family. A gallery was built along the front facade and a bellcast roof was extended over it.
The carriage house
The carriage house:
The present carriage shed was constructed in the 1880’s to house the Hurtubise family’s vehicles. Before then, barns and other farm outbuildings stood further back on the property.
Léopold Hurtubise
Léopold Hurtubise:
Six generations of the Hurtubise family lived in the ancestral home. The house was slated for demolition by a developer when Léopold Hurtubise, the last of the owner-occupiers, died in 1955.
Alice Lighthall
Alice Lighthall:
Alice Lighthall of the Westmount Historical Association mounted a campaign to save the property. Colin Molson, James Beattie, and Mabel Molson bought it and in 1960 founded Canadian Heritage of Quebec. The Hurtubise House became the non-profit organization’s first acquisition.

 

Canadian Heritage of Quebec:
In 2004 the Hurtubise family property and home were declared an historic site and monument by the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec. Following the classification, the Quebec government subsidized the restoration of the roof and of the dormer windows. A second provincial grant in 2011 helped to pay for restoration work on the stone facade, the gallery, and the interior.

Then & Now

Click on the article titles below to view the full articles and their images.

Westmount Public Library

Tuesday, September 19, 2017|Comments Off on Westmount Public Library

This iconic structure houses the first publicly-funded municipal library in Quebec. The stairs up to the library’s east entrance were recently demolished for the repair of a water pipe, and will be rebuilt...

The Westmount Lawn Bowling Club

Thursday, August 24, 2017|Comments Off on The Westmount Lawn Bowling Club

As you go past the Westmount Lawn Bowling Club on Sherbrooke Street at the corner of Kensington, you can imagine yourself back 100 years. However, the club has changed dramatically since its beginnings in ....

The Glen Viaduct

Friday, July 21, 2017|Comments Off on The Glen Viaduct

On March 6, 2017, the Glen Viaduct, also known as the Glen Arch, was officially designated a heritage site by Westmount City Council.  This marked the culmination of a long process of recognising the importance of this landmark in our municipality.  The steep valley with a stream...

Vimy Park

Friday, July 21, 2017|Comments Off on Vimy Park

The recently renamed Vimy Park, the triangular greenspace to the east of Westmount City Hall, was originally part of the once vast Decarie farm, granted to the family by the Sulpicians.  It was overlooked by a huge elm tree and was said to be a meeting place for Amerindians.  In the 1850s, when the Grey Nuns...