History and architecture of the Milton Park district

The sixties

The area east of the McGill University campus at the time was an English bourgeois neighbourhood and part of the Golden Square Mile. However, by the sixties, students had already moved into the neighbourhood in large numbers. Between the eastern boundary of the district, near the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, and the School of Architecture on the McGill campus to the west, one found the heart of the intellectual underground with its favorite hangouts: the New Penelope, the Black Cat, La Paloma, la Casa espagnole, the Phantasmagoria record store, la Hutte suisse... all of these places have been destroyed or are nonexistent. Today, these places have been replaced by several fraternity houses that have moved into the neighbourhood.

Over the years, gentrification has made rent increasingly unaffordable and several buildings have become luxury condos. But the historic character of the neighbourhood has not been completely lost, thanks mainly to the presence of housing cooperatives and other organizations and business affiliated with the CMP.

The area is full of Victorian homes with an architectural style much more diverse than in the Plateau Mont-Royal or elsewhere: from brick and gray stone to classical and English Gothic up until the Second Empire, with Parisian-inspired attics.

Some beautiful Queen Anne-style houses
(photos by Danielle Rousseau)


Maison Frank Fairleigh Parkins (vers 1887)

Maison Frank Fairleigh Parkins (vers 1887)

3492 rue Durocher (corner Milton) we find the magnificent house of Frank Fairleigh Parkins (acquired in 1887) and renovated in 1992 by architect Mario Biocca, who received the prix Orange de Sauvons Montréal. It's become a housing cooperative of 4 dwellings.



Maison Emma Tassé 1898

Maison Emma Tassé 1898

3488 rue Durocher, the picturesque house of Emma Tassé (spouse of Guillaume-Alphonse Nantel, lawyer and politician), constructed in 1898, is now Castel Durocher, a modernized Bed & Breakfast with 4 internet-connected rooms and where artisanal Belgian chocolat Chic Choc is made.





Maison Francis Hugh McKenna 1891

Maison Francis Hugh McKenna 1891

385 rue Milton (corner Hutchison) a part of Coopérative Du Chez Soi, was the elegant house of Francis Hugh McKenna, with a beautiful stained glass façade on the south side. It was built in 1891 and is presently divided into divided into five cooperative housing units.




Maison James Harper 1897

Maison James Harper 1897

481 rue Prince Arthur ouest is the opulent red brick home of businessman and Councillor James Harper, built in 1897. Its spectacular façade is adorned with a majestic portal and a cherub with horn and panpipes . It was purchased in 1957 by the McGill fraternity Phi Gamma Delta, and later served as a hostel and Hare Krishna temple. It became a private dwelling in 1978.




Other historical buildings of interest

(photos de Danielle Rousseau)

Maison Fisk 1908-1909

Maison Fisk 1908-1909

659 rue Milton (corner Université), la maison Fisk, constructed in 1908-1909, was the hangout in the 40s and 50s of renowned stress expert Dr. Hans Selye who was a professor at Université de Montréal and president of the International Institute for Stress and author in 1974 of "Stress without distress."



Ancienne maison de ferme

Ancienne maison de ferme

3635 rue Durocher is a red brick house, an old farm house, which is one of the oldest in the neighborhood. It was purchased in 1857 by pharmacist John Kerry. Today it houses students.




At 3449 University Street is the oldest high school in Montreal, the Montreal High School, now divided between FACE school, focused on the arts, and the alternative high school MIND ("Moving in New Directions" ) of the EMSB.

3702 rue Ste-Famille, The house was once the residence of famous New Zealand physicist and Nobel laureate in chemistry in 1908, Sir Ernest Rutherford. Thanks to him, the atomic age began in Montreal in 1902. The McGill University Rutherford Physics Building was erected in his honour and with small museum in 1967.

3625 rue Aylmer houses the McGill Christian Fellowship, founded in 1903 by Lord Strathcona. It is an institution in the neighborhood, housing The Yellow Door (YMCA McGill) whose Coffeehouse, the oldest in Canada, started in 1957. During the Vietnam War, many American protesters regrouped there and it launched the careers of several folk singers, including Jesse Winchester. The mission of the Yellow Door, associated with the Yellow Door Housing Corporation, is dedicated to the well-being of the elderly and neighbourhood youth in trouble.

3432 rue Hutchison houses Chez Alexandre le Bienheureux, a charming B&B and café with warm colours, housed in a beautiful centenary Victorian house.

Famous artists from the neighbourhood

Home of the famous public art sculptor Alfred Laliberté ("Little Swimmers" "Monument to the Patriots' 1926 bronze, fountain scuplture 1915) on rue Sainte-Famille, with several studios rented to the likes of Suzor-Côté, Maurice Cullen and Robert Pilot, it became a veritable museum of contemporary art between the years 1914-1953. Overall, 925 works were created there, including a famous series of bronzes.

The "old painter of Sainte-Famille", Louis Muhlstock(1904-2001) (Knight of the Order of Quebec in 1998 and an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1990), a native of Galicia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, lived on Sainte-Famille Street in a typical old 3-storey house of where he housed his workshop for over forty years. The Musée du Québec devoted a retrospective to him in 1995. Though known for his nudes, the artist has put an often destitute life on canvas, but not without a certain nobility of the people of working-class neighborhoods, factory workers, the unemployed and immigrants.

The rebel sculptor Armand Vaillancourt, the sixteenth of a family of 17 children from Lac Noir in the Eastern Townships, immortalized Durocher Street in his first creation. With his work "The Tree of Durocher," created from 1953 to 1956 while he was a student at the École des Beaux-Arts in Montreal, he has triumphed in the standards of sculpture and art of his time. Winner of the 1993 Prix Paul-Émile Borduas, the highest distinction in the field of visual arts, Vaillancourt never separates his art and its social commitment to the defense of the rights of men.

Claude Jutras, a small park at the corner of Clark Street and Prince Arthur Street, between Ste-Famille where the famous filmmaker grows and Carré Saint-Louis, where he spent much of his life. A sculpture by Charles Daudelin is there in honor of Jutras.

Some famous politicians from the neighbourhood

At 400 rue Prince-Arthur, a Victorian gray stone house was built in 1894 by Senator Rodrigue Masson, one of the lieutenant governors of Canada.

Senator Solange Chaput-Rolland (1919-2001) grew up at 3512 Durocher, now replaced by a small apartment building.

The cousin of Georges Vanier, Governor General, was founder with his wife of the Vanier Institute of the Family whose son, Jean Vanier, philosopher and theologian, is the founder of L'Arche Canada, took up residence at 3626 rue Ste-Famille and this house is now owned by the Housing Cooperative Chambrelle who keeps his office on the first floor

Check out these external links:

Historic houses and buildings with McGill virtuel:
Golden Square Mile
Rue Sherbrooke
Le cadran solaire de MDCCCC au 570, rue Milton.