Finding Sidewalk Stamps

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Matt Blackett is obsessed with sidewalk stamps. He wrote about them in Spacing‘s first issue and his interest was even featured in the Globe and Mail. Last month, when Matt met with a group of fellow public space enthusiasts here in Montreal, he asked us if our sidewalks were stamped too. Everyone shook their heads. “No,” they replied.

But that isn’t true. Montreal doesn’t seem to stamp its sidewalks anymore but it certainly did in the past. I’ve come across a stamp from 1922 on a Villeray sidestreet; a few weeks ago, on a balmy May evening, I noticed a lovely metal stamp embedded in the sidewalk of Park Avenue near the corner of Mount Royal. Shaped like a maple leaf, it testifies to the date of the sidewalk’s construction (1953) and the name of the contractor who built it (Charles Dufranceau).

I have no idea why Montreal abandoned the sidewalk-stamping tradition. It still seems to be practiced in Toronto; in Vancouver, sidewalks are often stamped with decorative elements, like leaves around the base of a tree. But perhaps I’m not looking hard enough: I’ll have to head down to look closely at the new sidewalks that have just been installed on the Main.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Sunday June 10 2007at 10:06 pm , filed under Canada, Public Space and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

3 Responses to “Finding Sidewalk Stamps”

  • Simon says:

    Almost identical stamps can be seen on Maplewood street (Outremont; I can’t recall exactly where on Maplewood), and Somerville street (Ahuntsic, near Ahuntsic/Viau bridge).

  • Chris says:

    I just returned from Halifax where I was surprised to find that every single intersection in the city seems to have a sidewalk stamp. The stamp is a simple carving (Which I assume is done when the concrete is poured) with the name of the streets of the intersection and a date (Which seems to be the date the sidewalk was created).

  • I’m in Toronto and it’s the same: every sidewalk is stamped. Many of the stamps are quite recent… the one outside was built in 2004.