Finding Your Way in 1894


I was one of those kids who decorated his room with National Geographic maps. I am still fascinated by them—especially by old maps. Take the above, for example. This 1894 map of Montreal (click on it to see the full version) is a guide to a city that is at once familiar and strikingly, surprisingly, foreign.

What stands out most are all of the places that no longer exist. The whole lower town has changed enormously; look at how seamlessly it flowed into the areas now known as downtown and Old Montreal. Today, this part of the city is strangled by expressways, its landmarks erased: Bonaventure Station, Chaboillez Square, Haymarket Square.

What is also fascinating is how the toponymy has changed. The streets bordering St. Louis Square were known as Ernest Street and Albina Street; what happened to these names? Sometime after 1894, the name of Mitchison Street was changed to Clark Street, Shuter Street and Oxenden Avenue were merged into Aylmer Street and Madison Avenue became Hutchison Street. Peel Street below Dorchester used to be named Windsor, which explains how Windsor Station got its name.

There is one thing about this map that leaves me scratching my head: it would seem that today’s Duluth Street used to be called Brébeouf Street; the current Brébeuf Street was once named Duluth Street. Did they swap names and lose the o?

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Sunday April 01 2007at 12:04 pm , filed under Canada, History, Maps and tagged . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

7 Responses to “Finding Your Way in 1894”

  • factotum says:

    The map is fascinating. I just noticed that Pine Avenue was interrupted between St Urbain and Saint Lawrence… I want to spend some time studying the map.

  • Donal Hanley says:

    Online site of Bibliotheque National du Quebec has some great old maps of Montreal also.

  • Ken Gildner says:

    It’s amazing how much devastation expressway construction brought to North American central cities during the mid-20th century. I find it somewhat tragicomedic that expressway construction destroyed Haymarket Squares in both Montréal and Boston.

    Great post, Chris.

    – Ken

  • Desmond Bliek says:

    Nice post- you pick a slice of town that’s really complicated and has had a rough go. What you don’t see on a map that shows just streets and blocks, is that much of the low-lying areas surrounding Vieux-Montréal (especially to the west) developed fairly late, and were coursed with open streams/sewers until quite late in the 19th century, making a not-insignificant break between Vieux-Montréal and the newer business centre that emerged along Sainte-Catherine. This is certainly a less gradual shift northwards (away from the water) than occurred in say, Toronto.

    The best page to lose yourself amongst old maps of Montréal is the BANQ’s ‘Liste de cartes utiles à la recherche pour la ville de Montréal.’



  • Rick Bercuvitz says:

    Thanks for posting this! I spent today tracing my family back through the Montreal City directories. Their first residence, in 1905, was at 7 Chaboillez st., adjacent to Chaboillez square. I had a devil of a time conceptually imagining where this was, until I found your map. I drive by that spot every day on my commute to and from work! The family shop (a butcher shop) was on O’Connell, today known as Dupre. It is a tiny street just East of the Bonaventure expressway and running between St. Paul and St. Maurice. On the NE corner of St. Paul and University, there is an old building still standing and currently boarded up. This building offers a flavor of what that neighborhood must have looked like when my great-grandfather walked the few blocks to work from Chaboillez to O’Connell–today he would have to navigate the Bonaventure as part of his commute!

  • Tim Rhind says:

    Thanks for posting this. I was looking for the address for where my Grandfather lived when he returned to Montreal from Scotland.

    He lived on Shuter street as a boarder, and I suspected that the street names had been changed as I had never heart of Shuter, and couldn’t find it on any of the mapping programs. Its priceless.

    Do you know of any good links to old maps of the west part of the island of Montreal, Pointe Claire etc?

  • Kate M. says:

    This map has been my main computer’s wallpaper for months.