Westmount City – ‘Westmount Park & Library’ – National Historic Site of Canada, 2005
The City of Westmount, incorporated in 1874 was designated as a National Historic Site in 2005, it’s mission to conserve the historic integrity of the built environment. In 1916, the City of Westmount was the first in Canada to create a local Architectural and Planning Committee.
In the 1890s, the City purchased 30 acres of farmland and devised plans for what would become Westmount Park.
In the early days the park was heavily forested, a stream winding through the middle of the park, lined by trees and benches. American Basswood-Lindens lined a path at the park’s Melbourne Ave. entrance, marking the course of a former stream that ran from Mount Royal into Saint-Henri and Lac St Pierre.
Murray Hill Park was located beside Côte-Saint-Antoine Road, tracing an old trail that was used by First Nations peoples. Before that, the Native Peoples of the area walked to the petite St. Pierre River. Fresh water wells have been found beneath the park that were sacred to the native peoples who first inhabited the area.
French settlers began colonizing the area in the late 1600s. They discovered wells along with mysterious pictographs carved into the trunks of trees along this pathway.
In the early 1700s, the French farming families along Côte St. Antoine Road transported their farm produce to market in Ville-Marie through the GLEN.
In 1857, a man named William Murray founder of the Beaver Steamship Line purchased land from the Leduc family farm and built a country residence which he named Westmount. The name was very popular so in 1895, the Town of Côte-Saint-Antoine changed its name to Westmount.
Murray park was expropriated from development after citizen protest. The park was originally created in the 1920s when William Murray sold a piece of his farmland to the City of Westmount (Smith,Watson & Murray Farms). The official name of the park is now King George Park (1929). After Murray’s death, local children enjoyed sliding down the hills in winter and apple picking in the fall.
In 2012, the ‘Westmount Historical Association’ installed a plaque in the GLEN to explain the significance of the Glen site. The steep valley with a stream was inhabited by early Scottish residents. On March 6, 2017 the Glen Viaduct was officially designated a heritage site by Westmount City Council (designated Quebec Bill 82). The Glen Viaduct acts as a southern gateway to Westmount connecting it to the City to the St. Henri. CPR built a small overpass in 1888 to extend service westwards. A stone viaduct replaced the overpass ten years later.
One cannot talk about the success of the transformation of the Westmount Library, without talking about the evolution of the landscaping of Westmount Park. The park was designed around existing natural streams and wooded areas, in the spirit of Frederick Law Olmsted.
In 1899, Quebec’s first public library was built in the park. Flowerbeds were planted and a bandstand was constructed. In 1910, Rickson Outhet – Landscape Architect designed the extension of the south side of park. The Flower Conservatory was designed by Lord & Burnham in 1927. In 1912, J. Howard Manning landscaped the park on behalf of the city. The Glen, stream and some of the ravines were filled in.
In 1964, the park was renovated by the firm McFadzean & Everly. The water course was redesigned with an addition of a waterfall and island for ducks. Trees were cut and the stream that crosses the park was redeveloped. There was addition of cast iron luminaries from 1932 that lit the park paths at night.
At the same time Peter Rose was completing work on the library extension and restoration, major considerations were being made on the reconfiguration of the existing landscape and tying together the varied architectural elements, the Library, Greenhouses and Victoria Hall.
Renowned Landscape Architect Dan Kiley based in Vermont, worked extensively on the central garden accessing the library’s entrance. Peter Rose Architects reviewed the existing parking spaces and condensed them into one central parking space with the addition of a new driveway.
A series of maple trees separate the library from Sherbrooke St. A water fountain and rose garden greet the library users as they use the pedestrian path to access the library. An additional 49 maple trees, Crabtree’s, Peking Cotoneaster hedges, flowering bushes, lilacs and a linden grove now grace the entrance of the library and the greenhouse.
Westmount Public Library
The library was founded in 1897 in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The library was designed by Robert Findlay and opened in 1899. It was the first free library to open in Quebec.
In 1982, the library suffered severe neglect, rain leaking through the roof and waters seeped through the foundations damaging stored material.
In 1991, the Peter Rose Architects presented a public presentation at Victoria Hall, proposing an exterior glazed hallway adjacent to the original Library joining it with a new addition.
The success of the evolution of the Library lies in all of the elements being historically preserved like a ‘capsule in time’.
This listing was created by Joanna A on Aug 27, 2020. Please confirm details at the site’s own website before planning your visit. Are you the owner/operator of this historic place? Would you like to make changes to this listing? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org