St. Louis Square’s Old Basin

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St. Louis Square, often known as Carré St-Louis (though this is, to the surprise of many, actually an anglicism), is one of Montreal’s greatest public spaces. A traditional Victorian park, ringed by beautiful old greystone rowhouses and villas, it first came into existence as a reservoir in 1851. In 1880, the reservoir was drained and the square as we now know it was built, complete with walking paths and a fountain.

Except that wasn’t entirely the case. The beautiful fountain that now stands in the middle of the square, serving as a central focus for all of its activity, once found itself in the middle of a much larger basin of water. In one newspaper illustration from 1902, the basin appears to cover the entire central section of the park. It has been converted into a summer wading pool for children, who frolic in the water as their mothers, dressed in long dark frocks, promenade around the square under the shade of parasols.

I’m not sure when the basin was redeveloped, but it continued to exist as recently as 1943, according to one photo showing workers improving the basin’s drainage system.

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This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Wednesday November 21 2007at 04:11 pm , filed under Canada, History and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Responses to “St. Louis Square’s Old Basin”

  • slutsky says:

    This is one of my favourite places in Montreal. When I first moved here I lived on Drolet, about twenty paces up from the square. It has serious sentimental value for me.

  • I was raised on DeBullion between Roy and Napoleon until I was almost nine, when my family moved up to Outremont in July 1977. Throughout my childhood, the large basin at Carré St-Louis was still open, but was not filled with water. The open area had playground gear, like monkey bars and a merry-go-round. It was only filled in (with the addition of the smaller-size pool for the reactivated fountain) sometime in the early 80s, I think. We used to call it “old man park”, because it was always busy with winos.