Even after seven years of walking its streets, I’m still finding new things in Mile End, the neighbourhood I called home before I left Montreal. Back for a visit last month, I got around mostly by bike, which took me down streets on which I wouldn’t normally walk, like the quiet stretch of Casgrain in the old garment district. That’s where I spotted a laneway with an unusual name: Swiss Lane, according to the street sign, though “lane” has been patched over with white tape and the alley’s official name is now “ruelle Swiss.”
I can’t find any clues as to the origins of Swiss Lane’s name. The city’s otherwise comprehensive Répertoire historique des toponymes montréalais contains no reference to anything Swiss or Suisse. The only mention I can find in the Lovell’s Directory indicates that Swiss Lane was “not built upon.” (Its entry in the 1935 directory is found right under Swastika Avenue, which was apparently a lane off Ste. Famille Street.) So what’s the story behind Swiss Lane?
Tags: Exploring the City, Laneways, Mile End, Montreal, Street Names, Street Signs