Westmount Public Library

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.

Municipal Status & Mayors

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

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Westmount Heritage Sites


Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada 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.


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.


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


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


1896 Among the first cities in the world with an electrically-lit Christmas tree.
1898 First indoor rink in the world built specifically for hockey (privately owned – corner of St. Catherine and Wood).
1899 First free public library in Quebec: Westmount Public Library.
1899 First municipally-built community centre in Quebec: Victoria Hall.
1906 First in Quebec to generate electricity by burning garbage.
1909 First municipality in North America to have a set of planning and building regulations, Building By-Law #190.
1911 First municipally-funded children’s library in the British Empire: (in) Westmount Public Library.
1913 First in Canada to adopt a City Manager form of government.
1916 First in Canada to create a local Architectural and Planning Board.
1917 First NHL hockey game played at the Arena at the corner of Ste-Catherine St. and Wood Ave.
1926 First pipe organ in a public community centre in Canada (no longer in place).
1926 First outdoor floral clock in North America.
1927 First in Canada to build and operate a powered snow melter.
1945 First in Canada to register its municipal coat-of-arms in Scotland.
1959 First in the world to adopt a raised hand symbol as a ‘do not walk’ pedestrian sign.
1968 First bilingual military unit in Canada: Royal Montreal Regiment. Since 1914, and officially since
1975 First in Montreal to establish a municipal ambulance service (no longer in place).
1987 First in Quebec to require sprinkler systems in new buildings.
1994 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.
2013 First in the world to build underground ice hockey rinks: Westmount Recreation Centre.

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:

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 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 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:

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 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:

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 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

WAG: Athletic Grounds since 1887

The site of Westmount High School and the adjacent Westmount Athletic Grounds (WAG) has a fascinating history. When Westmount was still the Village of Côte St. Antoine, the land between Hallowell Street and Hillside Avenue stretching from today’s St. Catherine Street to the train tracks was the site of the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (MAAA)’s […]

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From Horses to Cars

A century ago, most Westmounters travelled by horse, streetcar or train. Tradesmen delivered their milk, bread, and other goods by horse and cart. Many residences on large lots had coach houses for horses, carriages, and sleighs. Horses were also housed in local livery stables. The City of Westmount had its own stables in the Public […]

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Shopping on Sherbrooke Street

The three blocks of Sherbrooke Street’s Victoria Village are
reminiscent of the high street in an English town, supplying the daily services needed by local residents…

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1 Wood Avenue

With hockey season here again, it’s interesting to recall where the game was played locally before the old Montreal Forum was built. Until 1918, professional hockey was played on the site of today’s condominium complex at 1 Wood Avenue….

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Victoria Hall

The arched doorways of Victoria Hall welcome us to a myriad of events and activities—the Friends of the Library book sales, the Artisans’ Festival, dramatic presentations, concerts, large gatherings, classes, and much more. In 1898, as Westmount Public Library was being built…

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Murray Park

The official name of the park located between Westmount Avenue and Côte St. Antoine Road is King George Park, but most Westmounters call it Murray Park. The land was part of a large country estate acquired by William Murray, founder of the Beaver Steamship Line, from the old Leduc farm. Around 1860, Murray built a stone villa….

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178 Côte St. Antoine Road: 178 Years Old

Two heritage houses are set back on Côte St. Antoine Road across from bottom of Forden Avenue. Numbers 168 and 178 (the Goode House) are the only remaining homes of four identical stone cottages built in 1840 by Moses Judah Hayes. These are the second oldest buildings in Westmount…

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Westmount Square

The nineteen sixties was a period of massive urban transformation in Westmount, as in Montreal and the rest of North America. Victorian housing was demolished to widen Dorchester Boulevard, to make way for the Ville Marie Expressway, and to construct Westmount Square…

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Westmount Public Library’s Interior

The opening of Westmount Public Library in 1899 highlighted the great importance residents attached to reading and higher education. Architect Robert Findlay was responsible for the library’s first three phases—the initial building, the Children’s Library of 1911, and the 1924 south reading room with mezzanine….

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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…

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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 ….

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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…

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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…

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Early Westmount Churches: Church of the Advent, St. Matthias and Westmount Park United

The early churches in Westmount were missions for congregations from down- town Montreal. As parishioners moved westward, some churches opened up small venues to accommodate them in the sparsely settled municipality. Across de Maisonneuve Blvd….

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