Heritage

The material and natural symbols of Pointe-Claire’s history reflect the values and beliefs of those who built the City through the ages for current and future generations.

Pointe-Claire Windmill

1 Saint-Joachim Avenue

Built in 1709–1710 – Classified as cultural property on April 8, 1982

Classified as cultural property in 1982, the Pointe-Claire Windmill is one of the last remnants of the shore settlement of the Island of Montreal. An iconic symbol of la pointe Claire, it is a figurehead of the City’s heritage, especially with the “Croix des Missions”, which has stood at its current location since 1900.

The windmill was built in 1709 on land belonging to the Sulpicians, the seigneurs of the island at the time. They rented the windmill to the miller for an annual payment. In 1873, Amable Saint-Julien, a farmer from Rigaud, bought the windmill and the ground rent of la pointe Claire, thus exempting them from all seigneurial fees. The windmill changed ownership many times before it was given to the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame in 1866, after a land exchange with the parish council.

Within its 1.3-metre-thick rubble masonry walls, the windmill housed at the time a complex mechanism mounted on a chainwheel that allowed the sails to move and face the wind. The Pointe-Claire Windmill was built on the principle of the seigneur’s banality right, which is based on the obligation to build a mill that peasants could use for a milling fee. The windmill is 7.8 metres high and measures 3.9 metres in diameter.

Built to meet the needs of colonists in the 17th century, the windmill did not reach the set quotas. It was then used as a watchtower to protect the seigneurie against the Iroquois and as a pumping station for the private aqueduct supplying the Sisters’ convent. During the 1950s and 1960s, the windmill underwent major restoration to help it regain its former glory. In 1967, to mark the 100th anniversary of the neighbouring convent, architect Marc Angers designed new sails inspired by the Verchères and Isle-aux-Coudres mills. Although it no longer houses its original mechanism, the windmill remains an iconic fixture.

There are only around twenty windmills in Quebec. The rarity and age of the Pointe-Claire Windmill and its place in the history of Montreal’s West Island have added to its value in the heritage of the region.

The windmill is still owned by the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame. Tours are organized through the Société pour la Sauvegarde du Patrimoine de Pointe-Claire.

Notre-Dame-du-Vieux-Moulin Convent

1 Sainte-Anne Avenue
Built in 1867–1868, expanded in 1962

The Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame were established in Pointe-Claire in 1787, the year the first convent was built. Located behind the cemetery, between the presbytery and the church built at the time, the convent gave way to a new, more imposing church. An agreement to exchange lands with the parish council allowed the Sisters to gain ownership of the windmill and the pointe. In 1867, their second building was constructed at its current location.

Built using Henri-Maurice Perreault’s plans, the convent owes its sober neoclassical appearance to the work of Octave and Louis Bourgouin. The building, made of uncut stone, includes a basement, a ground floor, a second floor, and an attic. The gable roof features a dormer window and a bell turret in the centre. The interior of the building was completely modernized in 1962 when architect Louis-Napoléon Audet expanded the original convent. Drawing inspiration from the architectural style and materials of the original building, particularly field stones, Audet added two sections perpendicular to the original building to better meet the needs of the Congregation.

At first used for educational purposes, the convent recently served as a retirement home for nuns.

Saint-Joachim Church

2 Sainte-Anne Avenue
Built in 1882–1885

Inaugurated at the end of the 19th century, the current Saint-Joachim Church is the fourth building of its kind on la pointe Claire. Through its rich history, the church is a vital part of the city’s cultural and religious heritage.

The first church, built in 1713, was replaced by a second building in 1746 due to the parish’s growing population. Faced with major repairs, the second church gave way to a new building in the mid-19th century. Construction on the new church was nearly completed when the building was ravaged by fire. The Sulpicians then decided to build an identical replica, and thus the current church came into being.

Completed in 1885, Saint-Joachim de Pointe-Claire Church is a neo-Gothic masterpiece by renowned architect Victor Bourgeau. The vertical architectural lines are broken only by pointed arches at the openings. Measuring 45.6 metres long and 18.9 metres wide, the grey rusticated stone building features framework and ornaments in bushhammered free stone. The gable and octagonal spire both feature a batten roof. The spire houses three bells under its geminated louvres that direct sound toward the ground.

Restored in 1963, 1964 and 1987, the interior of the church is a rich blend of symmetrical order and artistic grace that is unique to the church’s architecture. A statue of Saint Joachim, the father of the Virgin Mary, was installed in the church’s central niche under sculpted decorations with cusps, quatrefoil, beads, trefoil, pinnacles, columns, and pendentives.

Having inspired many other churches in the province, Saint-Joachim de Pointe-Claire Church is a religious masterpiece for its appearance and architectural features as well as for its heritage value on la pointe Claire.

Presbytery

2 Sainte-Anne Avenue
Built in 1848 and transformed in 1913 

The current presbytery was built on the same site as the former building that was constructed in 1705. The old building, which was mainly used at the time as a home for the parish priest, was also a place of worship and hosted major religious events until the first church was built in 1713. Needing urgent repairs, the old presbytery was replaced in 1848 by a more functional building in a neoclassical style. The structure was modified in 1913 according to plans by architect Théo Daoust: a new story, mansard roofs, dormers, and pyramid-shaped ornaments were added. These renovations gave the building a castle-like appearance unique to the architecture of clerical residences in Quebec at the time.

Although work completed in 1954 removed the cornice mouldings and other design elements, the exterior of the presbytery is still one of the most original in the eclectic landscape of Quebec.

Canada Hotel

322-324 Du Bord-du-Lac – Lakeshore Road
Built in the second half of the 19th century

At the beginning of the 20th century, it took four hours to travel from the West Island to Montreal. Pointe-Claire was a vital stopover for travellers before it gained popularity with vacationers. Many hotels were therefore built in the West Island.

Léon Plessis Bélair, the “Village hotelier,” was the first manager of the Canada Hotel in 1880. Many years later, the hotel was leased to several different owners.

In 1980, the Cousineau family sold the property to Eve Drouin Thomson, who made many repairs to restore the building to its former glory. The architectural style is inspired by traditional houses in Quebec with its one-and-a-half-story rectangular corps de logis, curved gable roof, and its row of dormers along the front gable of the roof.

Today, a pub operates within the Canada Hotel.

Pointe-Claire Hotel

286 Du Bord-du-Lac – Lakeshore Road
Built around 1900

Since the 1970s, the building that had been long known as the Pointe-Claire Hotel is home to one of the most popular restaurant-bars in the West Island. Although the building is now mainly used as a restaurant, it was first a hotel in the 1880s when it was run by Louis Labelle, the “parish hotelier.” In 1901, Wilfrid and Napoléon Schetagne rebuilt the hotel after a fire ravaged most of the Village, including the post office and City Hall.

In 1904, Napoléon sold his share to his brother Wilfrid following an agreement stipulating that Wilfrid “will not have the right to manage a hotel within the limits of the Village of la pointe Claire.” This establishment changed ownership and names several times before becoming the Pointe-Claire Hotel in the beginning of the 1960s.

In 1979, the Hotel changed its calling and became the Bar Pionnier. However, it gave way to Clydes restaurant in 1995 after receiving complaints about the noise caused by bar patrons. In 2011, the establishment came under new management and was renamed Le Pionnier.

Pierre Demers House (Portelance House)

42 Sainte-Anne Avenue
Built around 1848

Pierre Demers House was built using field stones from nearby quarries. Its story began in 1847 when Pierre Demers bought an empty field, where he built a house and a smithy. In 1866, the house, the blacksmith shop, and the stable were sold to Pierre, an iron merchant from Montreal and the son of Pierre Demers.

Many years later, the new owner, Stanislas Portelance, used the stable to make carriages and truck boxes. In 1944, the Portelance family added lean-to roofs on each gable. At the time, the smithy was on the north side, while the stable was behind the house. The yard where the blacksmith shoed horses was so narrow that it was only possible to shoe the animals one side at a time.

Sold by the Portelance family in 1985, Pierre Demers House has since become a restaurant that adds to the prestige of the Pointe-Claire Village.

Antoine Pilon House

258 Du Bord-du-Lac – Lakeshore Road
Built around 1707, 1979-1980

Antoine Pilon purchased the land in 1706 and built a house on it. The Pilon family retained ownership until 1826. Among the various owners that followed were the Valois family, one of whom, Alexandre, gave his name to the neighbourhood.

In 1968, André Charbonneau, a merchant and the founder of the Société pour la Sauvegarde du Patrimoine de Pointe-Claire, purchased the house and began restoring it. However, the building was in very poor condition and had to be demolished. The house was rebuilt using original materials.

Antoine Pilon House was rebuilt using log construction, and a new perpendicular wing in the same style was added to the main building. The reconstruction also restored the presumed original slope of the roof and covered it with cedar shingles. The entrance was returned to its original location, and the fireplace and bread oven were showcased.

Bowling Green

Developed around 1905-1913

Introduced to Canada in 1905 by American landscape architect Frederick G. Todd, the garden city concept combines the needs and advantages of urban life with the benefits of a rural environment. This type of precursory development, created by revolutionary British architect Ebenezer Howard, gave rise to many projects, including the Bowling Green (1905) and the development of the Town of Mount Royal (between 1912 and 1948).

Under the direction of Mr. Todd, the Canadian Nursery Company began developing a site west of Cedar Avenue in 1905. The project, named the Bowling Green, was a scale model of a garden city, with houses of a similar style arranged in an orderly way around a central park. It also included a recreational area where lawn bowling could be played.

Behind the Bowling Green project, the Canadian Nursery Company operated a nursery and a rose garden. Less profitable than anticipated, the greenhouses were demolished, and the land was subdivided to build new houses.

Its popularity increasing thanks to the beauty and cleanliness of the area as well as its quiet neighbourhoods, the City of Pointe-Claire became a vital part of the Montreal landscape for residents and vacationers alike.

Hyacinthe-Jamme-dit-Carrière House

152 Concord Crescent Avenue – Built around 1780
Classified as cultural property on August 12, 1964 under the name “Maison municipale.” Commonly called French Canadian House.

Classified as cultural property on August 12, 1964 under the name “Maison municipale,” this recreational area is more commonly known as the French Canadian House, particularly for its style influenced by the architecture of New France.

Purchased in 1769 by Hyacinthe Jamme-dit-Carrière, the property was bequeathed to his widow, Élisabeth Homay, and his son, Jacques Jamme. His son then undertook major repairs with carpenter François Duchesneau: the masonry was raised, new shingles were installed, and a veranda was added.

In 1842, the Legault family took ownership of the land after an exchange between Pierre Legault and Jacques Jamme. The Legaults held the property until 1953. Purchased by the City of Pointe-Claire in 1961, Hyacinthe-Jamme-dit-Carrière House is used today for sociocultural activities, particularly to host day camps offered by the City.

The Picard-style building features a field stone construction, a battened copper roof, drip moulds, a long covered veranda, and gabled dormers. Two chimneys along the roof ridge lead to a fireplace and a bread oven. Repairs and restoration work, led in part by architect Victor Depocas, were undertaken in 1968, 1969, and 1988: an annex was added in the back, and Victorian-style ornamental millwork was removed, except for those in the dormer pediments.

Terra-Cotta

Founded by the Honourable Alphonse Desjardins in 1888, the Montreal Terra Cotta Company extracted clay from a quarry at its Pointe-Claire factory from 1912 to 1962. As many as 60 people worked at the Terra Cotta Brick Works, located east of Saint-Jean Boulevard and north of the Lakeside district and the railroad tracks, to extract and transform 700,000 cubic metres of clay from the quarry.

To meet the growing demand in the market, the factory purchased new, modern automated equipment that handled the various phases in the brick-making process, from extraction to baking. In 1925, Montreal Terra Cotta sent over 450 wagonloads of hollow tiles made of hard-burned terracotta per year to build churches, theatres, and schools. However, in 1929, the factory was burned down in a major fire and needed to be rebuilt.

After the clay quarry was depleted in 1962, the Montreal Terra Cotta Company began rehabilitating the site. Part of the site was sold to the private sector to encourage economic development. The rest was transferred to the City and turned into a park and bird sanctuary. Where the facilities once stood are now grassy green spaces full of natural serenity.

Legault House

Purchased in the early 19th century by Augustin Legault, a descendant of military officer Noël Legaud dit Deslauriers, this property belonged to the Legault family for nearly 200 years.

The Norman-style Legault House includes architectural features that have been preserved over the years. The log-constructed building has a field stone foundation and two chimneys, one at each end of the roof ridge. Supported by a frame made of tree trunks, the gable roof and drip moulds are covered in cedar shingles. The exterior of the house conceals architectonic elements that have stood the test of time. Inside, the hollow-backed flooring, the ceilings with large moulded boards, the support beams, the field stone fireplace, the dirt floor, the remains of an old bread oven, and handmade ironwork elements are all reminders of a bygone era.

From 1941 to 1955, repairs and restoration work was undertaken to cover the exterior with chamfered boards, add toothed quoins, and build an annex in back.

Morin Chapel

During a Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918, poultry merchant Edmond Morin made a promise to build a chapel as a sign of gratitude if his eleven children were spared from the disease. His wish was granted, and the family patriarch kept his promise by building a chapel that bears his name.

Able to accommodate up to 28 people, Morin Chapel features Gothic-style windows and a white enamel and gold altar upon which rested as a statue of Christ wearing a crown of light and a crucifix. These objects of worship were stolen in the 1960s during painting and renovation work undertaken by the third owners of the building, the Samatas family.  During that time, an old-style bell from the railway network was installed in the bell turret.

When the Bayview Centre was built, Morin Chapel was moved to its current location near Highway 20. Patients and residents go there to reflect.

Another chapel was built in 1875 by the widow of Doctor François-Michel Valois and his son L. J. A. Valois after a prayer for recovery was granted. The Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes-Santé-des-Malades Chapel, or Valois Chapel, was rebuilt and expanded in 1893 before it was finally demolished in 1948.

Bibliography

Des Rochers, Jacques. Un lieu nommé Pointe Claire. Guide d’excursion patrimoniale / A Place Called Pointe Claire. A Heritage Tour Guide.  Pointe Claire, s.n., 2000.

Matthews, Brian R. A History of Pointe Claire.  Pointe Claire, Brianor, 1985

Montreal Gazette. “Pioneer returns to Pointe-Claire club scene.” http://montrealgazette.com/news/world/pioneer-returns-to-pointe-claire-club-scene. Accessed Nov. 2nd, 2011.

Patri-Arch. “Inventaire patrimonial et étude du patrimoine bâti de l’arrondissement de Pointe-Claire.” Pointe-Claire, s.n., 2005.