Two Streets, Two Neighbourhoods


The laneway running between Esplanade Avenue and St. Urbain Street, just above Villenueve, does not have a name, but it is home to several dwellings, including the duplex on the left of the above photo. (It has an address on Esplanade.) This laneway developed in the first decade of the twentieth century when today’s Mile End was under the jurisdiction of a burgeoning suburb known as the City of St. Louis. Inspired by a City of Montreal building code passed in 1901, St. Louis’ building regulations required, among other things, the construction of laneways to remove some more unsightly activities from the streets. They quickly became hubs of neighbourhood life and occasionally the site of laneway houses.

Today, most of these old laneways are far too narrow to serve their original purposes, so garbage collection and other unsavoury services are performed once again in the street. At the same time, their newfound quietude must make them a nice place to live.


Walkley Avenue, like many NDG streets, was built in the early twentieth century by developers eager to transform the area’s farmland into lucrative middle-class housing. Its name reflects the bourgeois anglophone character of the new suburb; nearby streets are called King Edward, Mayfair, Coronation and Park Row. Like Mile End, NDG was an independent suburb until it was annexed to Montreal in 1907. Unlike Mile End, it wanted to emulate its more upscale neighbour, Westmount. Although multifamily housing was standard even among middle-class Montrealers, NDG did all that it could to disguise its walkup plexes as single-family houses. Many eastern NDG streets are lined by homogenous rows of semi-detached fourplexes built in the 1910s and 20s.

Like most streets in western NDG, however, Walkley has a more heterogenous appearance. Near Sherbrooke Street, it contains a mix of detached houses, duplexes and the occasional apartment building.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Wednesday May 02 2007at 03:05 pm , filed under Canada, History, Public Space and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Response to “Two Streets, Two Neighbourhoods”

  • Aaron says:

    Funny how the hipster/hasidic jew Mile End looks so ghetto while Walkey, “the baddest street in NDG” looks like a cosy suburb.

    Great pictures, great post