Around the Lachine Canal
March Visit in 2003


Roger Kenner
Montreal, Qc,
Canada 2002

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Explorations: Ville St. Pierre/South Branch/Cote St. Paul: 2003

Sunday, March 23, 2003

[Many items have been suppressed in this Lite Version]

[Montreal West/Ville St. Pierre]
[Elmhurst Crossing]
[Station Street]
[Notre Dame]
[CP: South Branch/LaSalle Loop]
[South Branch]
[LaSalle Loop]
[Into Cote St. Paul]
[Cote St. Paul]
[Historical Perspective]
[Following the old CP Line]
[Neighbourhood Tucked Away]
[Cote St. Paul Train Station]
[Following the old GTR/CN Line]
[Hydrualic Canal]

Write Up

I took the work bike out for my first bicycle outing since November! It was a cool, overcast very early Spring day. The temperature was just above zero and, although there was still snow everywhere, the streets were dry for the most part.

I left after church, at 13:30, and after taking nearly an hour to get all my bike gear back together. My goal was to ride along some of the areas I had been researching and writing about in my history of the Lachine Canal.

As I was riding towards my first goal of Montreal West, I happened to be at the Elmhurst rail crossing just as a West Island Commuter train came by.

I started my research by riding down the hill in Montreal West along Ballantyne. Along the way, I passed this huge house, which I will have to return to explore later. I was looking for what might be left of 'Station Street'. When I got to the bottom, where Ballantyne curves into Courtney, which curves into Brock, and then Brock ends unceremoniously at Montreal-Toronto Road, I could see that nothing was left of Station Street. There was no crossing Montreal-Toronto Road. The original location of 'Station St' has been totally obliterated by the 1960s extension of Hwy 20 through Turcot Yards. I proceeded back along the new extention of Ronald Drive, tracing the bottom of the Escarpment around until I came St. Jacques (Actually 'Avon Road' in Montreal West).

I crossed over the rail overpass and turned around by St. Jacques and took a picture of this historic house. I continued along 'Elm Street' until it came around at Richmond (Still hoping for a passage under the highway, to find old Station Street.). I came out a 5th Avenue and turned left to pass under the freeway, coming out at Gauron & Notre Dame.

I rode through Ville St. Pierre to Notre Dame & Lafleur. I then rode up Notre Dame as far as the Trinitaires overpass, noting the Canadian Car & Foundry Plant and the paved road next to the tracks. I rode back and crossed over the Canal.

I then headed east along St. Patrick Street, along the route of CP's 'South Branch'. At Irving, I found the end of the LaSalle Loop and so rode up the hill on Irving, to Newman Boulevard. I found the end of track at Allard Street. I had to take a detour to the new Wal Mart to get more film. Then I rode back down Irving to St. Patrick and continued east along the Canal to the Cote St. Paul locks area. Along the way, I encountered the 'end-of-track' for the South Branch, just shy of the new Canal bridge.

Once in old Cote St. Paul, I explored all the small streets, looking for traces of the original rail lines. I found the traces of the original CP line, through to where the St. Paul yards were. I also found the end of track on the CN lines, and traced the line back along Pitt and other streets. I rode up the small street west of the highway, where the old St. Paul Station used to be. I rode east as far as Atwater, but did not have time to explore, as it was getting too dark to take pictures.

Riding back, I found the traces of the old hydraulics canal at St. Paul. I rode back to the St. Jacques hill via the old way I used to go, the 'back way' that I had not used in some years. I was home at 18:00. My butt sure was sore!

Montreal West/Ville St. Pierre

At the Elmhurst Crossing

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Looking East from Elmhurst Crossing
Train Approaching

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
AMT Commuter Train
Coffee Park in Background

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Commuter Train at Montreal West Station
Being Pushed by Locomotive

Looking for 'Station Street'

Crossing over 'Avon Road' (St. Jacques), I descended Ballantyne, and then Brock, looking for what was left of 'Station Street'

As early as 1907, a tongue of Montreal West descended the hill, to meet the railroad tracks of the Grand Trunk Railway and the Montreal Park & Island Railway. 'Montreal West Avenue' has become 'Brock Street' and 'Hillsview Avenue' has become 'Ballantyne". Across the first tracks of the GTR, nearly abandoned by then, but now the main line, was a small section of town encompassing 'Inspector Street' and 'Station Street'. At the end of 'Station Street', along what was then the GTR main line through Lachine, was the Montreal West Station. Across the tracks, was the station of the Montreal Park & Island Railway.

By 1962, 'Montreal - Ste. Anne Road' had cut across the area, passing over the GTR Tracks. What was left of 'Station Street' was now called 'Glencoe".

Where is it now?

It appears that the extension of the Hwy 20 freeway, east of the 'Boulevard Ste. Anne de Bellevue' junction and through the Turcot Yards, built in the 1960s, has completely obliterated any trace of Glencoe Avenue. I came around after on the other side, but had no better luck

So I rode westward along the base of the escarpment along the newly completed extension of 'Ronald Drive' (the original 'Sunny Street'). I crossed over the tracks on the St. Jacques viaduct and turned around to come beneath it on the south side. At that point is a typical old style Ville St. Pierre house.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Historic House in Ville St. Pierre

Notre Dame

Riding around 'Elm Street' and back along 'Richmond' eventually brought me to '5th Avenue/Boulevard Gauron' and the corner with Notre Dame, where the old, original Lachine Railroad tracks make their crossing.

[Photo Removed]

In the photos below, I am standing in exactly the same spot as can be seen in the centre of the 1936 photo above. The only common landmark is the brick building of the 'Canadian Car & Foundry' plant, just to the east. Over the vacant swath would built the original new highway, 'Montreal-Ste-Anne Boulevard', which would connect with the new 'Trans-Island Boulevard' just to the west. Parallel to the rail line was that of the streetcar. There was no 'Notre Dame Boulevard' here until the 1960s.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Looking East along Notre Dame
Old Canadian Car Foundry building
Looking West along Original M & L Right-of-Way

The rail line is the right-of-way of the original 'Montreal & Lachine Railroad, and was from 1888 to 1961, the GTR and then CNR's main line to Toronto. Recently (2000), the track's road crossing was completely re-built, even though the line itself ends not far to the west, once it reaches Victoria Ave in Lachine.

When I first came by this corner, the low brick building was still called 'Restaurant Transfert', and hearkened back to the days when this corner was a major hub of streetcar activity.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Gauron (5th Ave) & Notre Dame
The old 'Transfert' Restaurant

I turned to ride east along Notre Dame.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Canadian Car Foundry (Close-Up)

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Traces of History
Note the Writing in the Brick

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
The Parallel Road, heading East Further Along, Looking back Westward

The 'Parallel' Road
In the 1980s, during a major reconstruction of the interchange leading to the Mercier Bridge, the government opened a new, temporary road for buses, which could be used to bypass the congestion. The original road starts at the end of Victoria in Lachine, and between there and the beginning of Notre Dame is used as a bike access.

It is probably somewhere under the overpasses to the left in this picture lies the the original 'Station Street'.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Parallel Road Comes to an End

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Looking North from Notre Dame
Towards Cliff & Old Husband Transport

In 1974 my friend and roommate, Chris Plate, got a job at 'Husband Transport', then the hub of a major trucking industry in this area. He brought me down several times to visit, which was my first real exposure to this area 'below the cliff'. In those days, Chris used to cut down 'Ballantyne' to take 'Pullman' along the base of the cliff and catch Hwy 20 into town at entrance at the viaduct. (The access from Ballantyne has been blocked now for many years.)

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Husband Transport (Close Up)

CP: South Branch/LaSalle Loop

Having ridden east along Notre Dame to just shy of the 'Trinitaires' bridge, returned once again to the corner of Notre Dame & Lafleur (Gauron? 5th Ave?). I then continued over the Canal bridge, past the snow-covered Ville St. Pierre 'halte', to St. Patrick Street on the north side.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Ville St. Pierre 'Halte' in Winter

CP's South Bank line was built around the turn-of-the-20th-century, to run alongside the Lachine Canal and Cote St. Paul Road into the industrial centre of Montreal, where it snaked in between the Grand Trunk lines in order to provide competition. At one time, it extended east to just past Atwater Avenue. Up until the 1960s, most of the land around this area remained open countryside.

As the City of LaSalle began to develop the industrial park to the south of St. Patrick, CP opened a number of spur lines which cross the road and head on up the hillside.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Looking West along CP South Branch &
St. Patrick, from Lafleur

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
View North to St. Jacques Cliffs & NDG
From St. Patrick

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
St. Jacques Cliffs & NDG (Close Up)

The 'LaSalle Coke Plant' originally opened in the early 1900s as the 'Montreal Light, Heat & Power Company's Gas Works. The landmark crane was used to offload coal from barges on the Canal. The plant was located well out in the country, just outside the Montreal city limits.

[Photo Removed]

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
CP South Branch at LaSalle Coke Crane
Looking West
Looking East from LaSalle Coke Crane

It can be seen that even as late as 1978, the plant was still in operation and was still pretty much surrounded by open countryside.

[Photo Removed]

The LaSalle Loop

As industry began to move into the newly incorporated town of LaSalle, an area still poorly served by mass transit, CP decided to built another line in the area, which came to be known as the 'LaSalle Loop'. Built in the 1920s, it cut across the open countryside from Highlands to the Montreal streetcar terminus at the end of Allard Street, and thence down along the outside of the Montreal city line to join the South Branch at 'Power Junction', just east of the LaSalle Coke Plant. Trains then headed eastward along the South Branch as far as Church Street in Cote St. Paul. Although built primarily for freight, passengers were carried on through the end of World War II.

[Photo Removed]

[Photo Removed]

>
Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
End of LaSalle Loop at Power Junction
(Bibliothèque Natonale)
1962: LaSalle Loop

 

The tracks of the LaSalle Loop can still be found climbing the hillside. At one time, there were 'wyes' heading both east and west at this point. The eastern curve has since been removed.

I followed these up the hillside, until they led off southward through an overgrown corridor between industries.


Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
LaSalle Loop: Tracks Climbing Hill

Not too much further east, and just outside the old Montreal city limits, is 'Irwin Street', which climbs the hill from the Canal. I followed this upwards, to see where the rail line would lead. I came out at the Newman Boulevard crossing. Newmand Boulevard was the first major east/west boulevard pushed through central LaSalle in the 1920s & 30s. It is now built-up like a suburban strip mall, but until quite recently its eastern end was fairly empty. Only in the mid-1980s was the Angrignon Shopping Centre built, and the Canadian Tire/Loblaws/Wal-Mart complex dates from the year 2000.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Newman Crossing
Looking West

At Newman, the tracks of the LaSalle Loop can be seen climbing up the hillside, running behind the new Wal-Mart and Loblaws. Then they cross and curve around behind one of the few remaining 'heavy' industries of the area, a paint plant located at Allard and Newman.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Tracks Approaching Newman Crossing Tracks Continue South from Newman Crossing

I rode down Allard Street a short ways to the railroad crossing. Beyond, the old industrial nature of LaSalle gives way to the clustered residential neighbourhood of Montreal. Beyond Allard, the tracks no longer go through. They are broken now by the Trinitaires extension.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Allard Crossing: End of Track Approaching Allard Crossing along Irwin Street

There was a time, not too long ago, when Allard was the only road connecting Montreal and LaSalle in this area. I recall once in the late 1980s coming to Angrignon Shopping Centre by bus from the Angrignon Metro Station. The bus had to come along the side streets to Allard, and then cut over to Angrignon. Where Trinitaires goes through now was a huge industrial plant. Only in the 1990s was it razed, Trinitaires pushed through, and a whole rash of brand-new housing units built on the stretch of LaSalle between Newman and Angrignon Park. I have not explored how far eastward the other end of the track comes.

On into Cote St. Paul

I returned to St. Patrick and continued eastward along the Canal and the South Branch. Just inside the Montreal limits begins the massive Sidbec steel wire facility (See 1978 photo above). There is one last rail spur heading off into the plant, and then the rails come to an end. One is just within sight of the new Monk Bridge.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
CP South Branch in front of Sidbec Plant
Looking West
CP South Branch: End of track in front of Sidbec Plant
Looking East

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
New Monk Street Bridge

Cote St. Paul

Historical Perspective

(Bibliothèque Natonale)
1875: Cote St. Paul Area

The area around Cote St. Paul began to grow in the 1860s and 70s, as the potential for hydrualic power around the Locks was realized. New factories were built along a hydraulic canal, servec by a number of tiny streets, at odd angles.

By 1903, the area had filled in with residences, and the new 'Town of Cote St. Paul' was important enough to warrant a Grand Trunk Railway spur line and train station.


Click to Enlarge (Bibliothèque Natonale)
1903: Cote St. Paul Area

Note that the train station is on 'Maisonneuve Avenue', just south of the corner with 'Archibald Street', which continues through to Dufferin. Then, in direction east, are 'Dufferin', 'Molson', and 'Frothingham' Streets. The angled street is 'Workman', ending at 'Victoria Street'. 'Victoria' is the continuation of 'Angers', but the two only meet obliquely. 'Hill Street' connects Dufferin and Molson and goes on to cross the hydraulic canal in a bridge before reaching St. Patrick. 'Eadie Street' is alreay in evidence, ending at Dufferin. Also in evidence already is 'Hadley Street'.


 

By 1907, Canadian Pacific's 'South Branch' is a new presence, cutting across the area. The timetable shows that a major stop was at Church street, where traingoers could exchange with the streecar line.

[Photo Removed]

The CP line angles across the corner of Eadie and Dufferin before making its way right along the south side of the hydraulic canal, behind the factory lots (still empty) facing Workman Street.

[Photo Removed]

The street lay-out in 1931 is about the same, but most streets have changed names: 'Workman Street' is now 'Brock Street'. 'Frothingman Street' is now 'Dunn Street'. 'Molson Street' is now 'Gladstone Street'. 'Dufferin Street' is now 'Cabot Street'. 'Maisonneuve Street' is now 'Roberval Street'. 'Hill Street' is now 'Gilmore Street'. 'Archibald Street' remains. 'Victoria Street' has now been renamed as the extension of 'Angers', although there remains a small 'blip' in the joint at Gladstone. 'Pitt Street' is new.

(Bibliothèque Natonale)
1931: Cote St. Paul Area

 

(Bibliothèque Natonale)
1962: Cote St. Paul Area

The 1962 map still clearly shows the two main rail lines. The CP and CN lines almost touch at Eadie and Cabot, where the CN line still comes up along the eastern side of Roberval. The St. Remi Tunnel, coming out at Laurendeau, has punched a new way through the area. It is unclear what the name of the small street connecting Roberval and De l'Eglise (Church) Street is. It may still have been 'Archibald'.

The hydraulic canal is gone, but note that St. Patrick still does not go through. Traffic to curve around via Cabot and Hadley to continue west.

At the rigth of the map, one can see that the Champlain Bridge approach has already been completed from Atwater on. When the Hwy 20/Decarie/Turcot development is completed in 1966, the elevated roadway will come down over Roberval, obliterating it north of Laurendeau, although Hadley and Eadie will pass underneath. South of Laurendeau, it will fill in the space along the east side of Roverval, where the train station was. It will follow the CN tracks around, taking up the space between the tracks and the aquaduct.


 

The 1970 aerial view below shows a large, vacant lot where the hydraulic canal used to be, although the opening of the canal can still be seen. St. Patrick, it should be noted, still does not go through! The CP Tracks can be seen cutting across the corner of Eadie and Cabot, and then moving behind a triangular-shaped warehouse building and continuing along. They cross a bridge over the St. Remi Tunnel as they head towards the rail yards by the Canal. At the end of the CN lines at Eadie appear to be freight warehouses.

[Photo Removed]

The map below shows the rail lines pretty much as they were. The CP lines must have been taken out quite recently. A small bit of Roberval Street appears to be left, orphaned at the top by the whole highway-obliterated stretch. Eadie and Hadley Streets now both push through to St. Patrick, which itself now goes through. Some of the old vacant lot covering the hydraulic canal still remains, however.

[Photo Removed]

Following the old CP Line through Cote St. Paul

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Cabot & Eadie: Traces of CP Tracks
Left Track is CP/CN Interchange Track

Standing at Cabot & Eadie Streets, looking westward. The tracks only remain where they crossed the road. The split seen here is that between the main CP line and the spur connecting the CP and CN lines. The photo below shows this same scene in 1948. Note the hydraulic canal at the bottom, and the small footbridge leading across

[Photo Removed]

Sighting eastward along the line. The grey-brick building at the right is the triangular-shaped warehouse shown in the 1970 aerial photo above. The new white building and parking lot to the left are standing on what would have been the hydraulic canal of previous years.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Cabot & Eadie: Following Track Eastward
Right-of-Way can be seen between building
Old Canal was just to left of right-of-way

Revisiting the tracks one block further east, as they cross Gilmore.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Tracks cross Gilmore: Looking East

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Tracks cross Angers: Looking East

And then, near the corner of Angers and St. Patrick, as they get ready to head over to the Canal, where the rail yard used to be.

I first came by here in 1972, but paid no notice to the rail yards. When I started riding by along the Canal Bikepath, they were still in operation, but declining. Over the years, I hardly noticed as the rail cars vanished, the tracks were overgrown, and finally removed. For many years there was a woodlot on the site. The main line, along the canal itself, remained until the mid-1990s. It was separated from the bike path by a long hedge. At the CN rail underpass, the bike path crossed under on the Canal side while the rail line crossed under on the street side. When the rails were finally removed, the bike path was redirected to follow the path of the original rail line.


Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Track cross St. Patrick: Looking East
Old Rail Yard was just across Road
Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Beginning of Old Rail Yard

[Photo Removed]

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Merchant's Manufacturing
View soon to dissappear
(See Construction in foreground)

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Merchant's Manufacturing (Close Up)

A Neighbourhood Tucked Away

Buried away in the midst of all the factories and highways is a small two-block residential area, just east of the St. Remi Tunnel

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Restaurant at Dunn & Brock

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Sighting along Dunn Street Dunn Street from Angers
(Opposite Direction)

The factory below can be seen in the distance in the Gilmore Crossing photo above.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Factory at Dunn & Brock
(CP Rail passed behind)

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
St Remi Tunnel: Looking North, Towards Canal, from Brock St Remi Tunnel: Looking South from Brock
(Note Overpass for CN Rail Yard)

The Cote St. Paul Train Station

[Photo Removed]

At the turn of the 20th Century, the small industrial town of Cote St. Paul was taking on some importance, enough that the Grand Trunk Railroad decided to build a spur line in that direction. In those days, rail lines also meant passenger service. For a few years, then, the GTR offered train service to Cote St. Paul (a fifteen minute ride, five times a day). The station was at the corner of Maisonneuve (Roverval) and Archibald. The service only lasted a few years, by which time the city's mass transit had rendered it obsolete. (Although the CP lines went in only a few years later, the CP passenger service to Allard and Church Street was not contemporary with the GTR service, the latter starting only in the 1920s.)

[Photo Removed]

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Rue de Roberval: Where Cote St. Paul Station was

Only the western side of Roberval Street is left today, buried in the massive shadow of the expressway since the mid-1960s. Where the cars are parked would have been the rail yars freight office. The train station would have been at the end of this street, a century ago.

Perhaps this older house was contemporary with the train station?

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
House on Roberval
(Probably Contemporary with Station)

Following the old GTR/CN Lines

At one time, the CN lines extended to Eadie, but now the end-of-track is near Brock. One of these tracks was likely the CN/CP Connecting line, seen above at the Eadie crossing.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Old CN Yard near Brock: Looking North
End of track!
Old CN Yard near Brock: Looking South

The same view from a block further south, at Angers Street. Only two of the original lines continue. The others are ghosts, evident only in the traces they have left at the street crossings. At this point the line begins to curve eastward, along the highway and aquaduct. Note the pedestrian (bike) way heading off along the expressway at the right. This bears further exploration.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Old CN Yard at Angers: Looking North
End of track!
Old CN Yard at Angers: Looking South

Revisiting the same lines around the corner, along Pitt Street. Looking eastward, the rail cars show that this part of the line is still in use.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
CN Line along Pitt Street: Looking West CN Line along Pitt Street: Looking East
Still in Use!

The Hydrualic Canal

In this 1978 closeup, St. Patrick has been pushed through, but the large vacant lot gives evidence of the former canal. Especially not the angled straight line cutting across the back of the lot. Neither Eadie nor Hadley streets cut through yet.

Note the house in the center of the photograph and the small building right at the angle of the vacant lot with St. Patrick. These can be seen in the photos below. Note also the rail cars in the CP yards under the expressway. (This CP rail yard was operational until at least the 1990s, for I remember seeing a small rail-freight operation from where the Canal bridge was.)

[Photo Removed]

The photo below shows the head of that vacant lot, where Hadley Street has now been pushed through.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
St. Patrick & Hadley: Where the Old Canal must have been

In the photo below, I am sighting along 'the line' that cuts across the back of the vacant lot.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Sighting along Path of Old Canal

This is the house seen at the centre of the 1978 photo above.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
House at Cabot & Hadley
which must have backed up agains Old Canal

Looking down along St. Patrick, one sees a rash of newer buildings before coming to the older, brick one around the curve. These newer buildings must have been built since 1978, and atop the old hydraulic canal and factories that it serviced.

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Looking East along St. Patrick
Note all newer buildings in foreground

Click to Enlarge (Taken on March, 2003 Ride)
Looking East along St. Patrick (Close Up)

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Prepared by Roger Kenner
April, 2003