Saint-Laurent Roots

View some images depicting the history of the general area of Saint-Laurent surrounding Vanier.

Back in the early 1800's, the well-to-do living up on the hills of Côte des Neiges looked down off of the mountain upon Saint-Laurent residents, primarily farm workers, leaning on their spades wearing sheepskin during the chillier days of spring and fall. Seeing these white specks shining in the sun, they nicknamed Saint-Laurent workers the "white-backs." (reproduction of "La Herse" by Horatio Walker)

Back in 1847, Église Saint-Laurent (which is next door to Vanier's E Building)
dominated the view on rue Principale which was later renamed Sainte-Croix.

Click for a larger version of this image.
One of the oldest documents we have ever found regarding Ville Saint-Laurent: a birth certificate from
"Paroisse de St-Laurent maintenant St-Michel" located at the Stewart Museum which was dated 1699!
Click on it to see a larger version.

1895 Map Excerpt
This map dates back to 1894 and shows Vanier on the right side marked as "Convent".
Click on the area marked "Convent", and you will see a more detailed version of that section.
You may notice that at this time, Ste-Croix Boulevard was known as St. Laurent road and
that the area west of Decarie (thick black line at left) is marked as "Vacant Fields".

This old photo of Église Saint-Laurent dates from 1897.
On the left, we can see the building that stood prior to the contruction of the our present E-wing

Below is another photo from the McCord Muxseum Archives:

Église Saint-Laurent

The Cross of Temperance on the grounds in front of Église Saint-Laurent is seen in a photo taken in 1841. This cross still can be found today in the same location. The first cross was made of wood, but a new one was subsequently erected made of stone. In the background we see what was originally a building used for storing seeds that still exists today, but which now serves as an annex for the parish hall.

This photo was taken in the early 1900s from the top of St-Laurent church. It shows the corner of Ste-Croix and De l'Église. In the horizon, we can first see Saint-Germain street, followed by Decarie, and, near the top of the image, Gohier street. The house at the top of the image (corner De l'Église and Gohier) still stands there today. We can also see the house in which sits a Pizza Hut today on the south side of De l'Église just west of the corner of Ste-Croix. Finally, note the large water tower on the left, also visible on the right side of the photo below.

1907 Map of Saint-Laurent
This map dates to 1907 and has more detail than the map from 1897. The present-day Vanier campus is outlined in red. You can click on the red section for a closeup of that area, or you can click anywhere else on the map for a high-resolution version of the entire map.

This later photo from 1910 looks down rue de l'Église towards Sainte-Croix where we see the
twin spires of Église Saint-Laurent which looks much the same today. Note the tramway tracks.

The same view from the corner of Décarie and de l'Église in a recently taken shot.

Du Collège tramway station, around 1920. (STM Archives, Montréal Tramways Company)

Click for a high-resolution version of this photo.
Tramway 1030 to Cartierville, near the Du Collège station, March 15, 1905. The sign on the front
says "Back River" referring to the fact it was travelling north towards the Rivière-des-prairies,
which was also known then as the Back River. Click on it to view a high-resolution version.

Click for a larger version of this photo.
If you ever wondred how they were able to get tramways through the snow, this photo shows how.

1913 Saint-Laurent map
The above map dates from 1913 and contains the most detail of any old map
of Saint-Laurent that we have found. Again, the present-day Vanier campus
is outlined in red. You can click on the red section for a closeup of that area, or
you can click anywhere else on the map for a high-res version of the entire map.

Click for a high-res version of this photo.
This grocery store, Épicerie Joseph Beaudry, was located at 189 rue Principale, now known as
883 Sainte-Croix, just a little north of Vanier's current location. The photo was taken in 1890.
Click on it to view a high-resolution version.

This shot of Sainte-Croix from 1900 shows the unpaved road and the wooden sidewalks.

E. Gohier & Co merchant tailor. Édouard Gohier (father) owned this dry goods store. It was opened in
1883 by Édouard Gohier and Ludger Cousineau and was at 810 Sainte-Croix avenue. Photo from 1892.
By around 1900, the store was purchased by the Millar family. See the original link.

Click for a larger version of this photo.
Lorna Sutton Schmidt posted this photo onto the Montreal Memories Facebook group with the description:
"Interior of the Millar Store on the corner of de l'Eglise and Ste Croix. The D.A. Millar house and store had once belonged to Mayor Gohier. My grandfather purchased it from him circa 1900. It has been said in the family that the house had been a bank at some time in its existence as well. I did note 'Banque' on one of the maps for this location. I do have an earlier photo of the house, not dated, but before verandas and other changes. My grandfather was born at St Laurent in 1867." It is used with her permission.
You can click on the photo above to see a larger version.

The property today is owned by the Urgel Bourgie Funeral Home which is located at 816 boul. Ste-Croix.
It's assumed the store was right on the corner, where there is now a parking lot for the funeral home.

Lorna Schmidt also sent us this hand-coloured postacard of the Millar store that belonged to her mother.
She also provided us with this other information:
A bit of family history: David Millar Sr, son of William Millar was born at Ste Therese, Terrebonne, QC, and came to Saint Laurent in 1850s. In 1860, he married Jane Donald, the widow of Alexander McDonald, also a merchant at Saint-Laurent. They had two sons: David A. b 1867 and Norman Millar b 1864 at Saint-Laurent.

Millar Store information from Lovell’s Directory of Montreal:
1897 to 1903: David A and Norman Millar ran the Millar Brothers Store in Saint-Laurent, at 162 St. Laurent ave.
(St. Laurent avenue was later called rue Principale and then blvd. Sainte-Croix)
1903: D.A. Millar lived at 182 St. Laurent avenue and the ‘new’ store at 184 St Laurent avenue.
1913: D.A. Millar address was 138 St Laurent avenue and the store was at 240 St. Laurent avenue.
1918 to 1931: D.A. Millar address was 238 rue Principale, the store was 240 Principale (later blvd. Sainte-Croix)

Édouard Gohier's house and the D.A. Millar General Store (previously Gohier dry goods store)
located at 804 / 810 Sainte-Croix, at the intersection of de l'Église street. Photo from 1956.

Here's a view of avenue Saint-Matthieu (now Côte-Vertu) taken in 1900.
Again, we can see the lack of road paving and the wooden slat sidewalks.
Homes were on the south side of the street and farms were on the north side.

This is one of the farms on Saint-Matthieu (Côte-Vertu), also photographed in 1900.

It was under the leadership of Édouard Gohier, Saint-Laurent's first mayor, that in 1912, Municipal Council inaugurated its first City Hall on rue de l'Église just west of Sainte-Croix. The building also served as a police station and fire hall. This building was however demolished in 1964 to make way for today's municipal library.

Another view of the same building taken in 1961, 3 years before it was demolished.
Also visible in the photo are fire trucks, firemen and police officers.

Click for a larger version of this photo.
Just to the west of the old City Hall and Fire House was a snack bar & toy store
and a pharmacy seen at the top of this photo. Below it we can see a restaurant that
now occupies the same building on the corner of Saint-Germain and de l'Église.

Château Gohier was built and inhabited by the City's first mayor, Édouard Gohier. Located at 1115 de la Côte-Vertu boulevard, it dates back to 1895. This photo was taken in the early 1900s.

Château Gohier in a more recent photo, taken in 1957. This home was later sold to the Sisters of Marie-Réparatrice, and then demolished to make room for the Complexe Hébergement Santé.

"Petit lac d'Argent" was a recreational site enjoyed by many Saint-Laurent citizens. It was located near the CN tracks next to Decarie Blvd. The site featured a bandstand, a restaurant and a public market. Click on the bandstand to see a close-up.

Maison Saint-Joseph, first hospital of Saint-Laurent. The Notre-Dame de l'Esperance hospital can just be seen on the far right side. Built in 1937 at 1275 Côte-Vertu Boulevard (corner of Sainte-croix), the hospital was constructed as an extension of this old building. The photo was taken in 1960.

The former Notre-Dame de l'Esperance hospital on Cote-Vertu in a photo from 1990.

Click for a larger version of this photo.
This photo from the 1940s shows a store directly across the street from the hospital on Cote-Vertu.

Click for a larger version of this photo.
Décarie Interchange looking south (1957) before the construction of Metropolitain Boulevard

Décarie Boulevard looking north from Decelles towards Côte-Vertu. Photo was taken in 1966.

Maison Langwill. Its construction dates back to around the 1860's.
Located at 834-836 Sainte-Croix, just across the street from H Building.

Home of the Pères de Sainte-Croix, located just south of Vanier at 696 Sainte-Croix.
Built in 1794, this is where the Pères and Frères de Sainte-Croix stayed when they arrived here.

Click for a larger version of this photo.
The same building at 696 Sainte-Croix is visible at left, with H building way up ahead and on the right.
Houses visible on the right side were removed during the expansion of CEGEP Saint-Laurent.

Click for a larger version of this photo.
This photo shows the same houses on the east side of Sainte-Croix just south of rue de l'Église.
One of the spires of Église Saint-Laurent, next to Vanier`s current E Building, is visible above.

In this photo, we can see the old Hotel Lalonde. It was located right in front of what is now Vanier's H-Building. Click on the photo for a high-resolution version. Farmers from the north part of the city on their way to Marché Central would stop here for rest and refreshments. The hotel had 16 rooms and it burned down around Christmas 1951. See more on a map.

Collège de Saint-Laurent, 1852

Collège de Saint-Laurent, 1896
(future CÉGEP Saint-Laurent)

In 1930,Collège de Saint-Laurent purchased the old St. Andrews and St. Paul Church originally on René-Lévesque Boulevard. The church was dismantled one stone at a time in Montréal and then painstakingly rebuilt on the Collège Saint-Laurent campus. Reconstruction was completed in 1931.



Click for a more detailed version of this section. closeup of Vanier Campus Closeup of current Vanier campus