Stewart Hall Cultural Centre
Stewart Hall, Pointe-Claire Cultural Centre, is a unique cultural venue located on the bank of Lake Saint-Louis offering a range of activities for the whole family: cultural workshops, concerts, children's shows, conferences, exhibitions at the Stewart Hall Art Gallery, art rental and sales service (Artothèque), cultural associations, etc.
For the citizens of Pointe-Claire, Stewart Hall is a synonym of serenity, beauty and cultural blossoming. Before becoming a venue dedicated to art and culture, Stewart Hall experienced a very exceptional history.
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HISTORY OF THE CULTURAL CENTRE – GUIDED TOURS
Pointe-Claire's Cultural Centre offers free guided tours of historical Stewart Hall. These visits, offered periodically throughout the year, are strictly for adults, and reservations are necessary. For this season's times and dates, please check under Special Events (12) or Summer Evenings in the Park Festival (9).
For Pointe-Claire residents, Stewart Hall Cultural Centre is synonymous with serenity, beauty, and culture; but before it was a space dedicated to art, Stewart Hall had a rich and colourful history.
At the end of the 17th Century, the Society of St-Sulpice Priests, owners of the Island of Montréal, divided the West part of the Island into a series of farms that were repeatedly subdivided.
Thomas Avery Crane, of Crane & Baird Grain Exporters, bought the actual lot called "The Knoll", in 1891. On it, he built a wooden country house by the edge of the lake and a farm on the north side of the Lakeshore. In 1901, the property and the farm were sold to Hugh Andrew Allen, while part of the farm was reserved for a tree farm, the Pointe-Claire Nursery.
The Knoll thus became the summer residence of the Allen family. By 1910, the Allen enterprises were in difficulty, and the family had to let go of their summer residence.
With the property's sale in 1911, the new owner, Charles Wesley MacLean, reassembled the original parcels of land. A model farm was set up at extravagant cost. In 1915, General MacLean demolished the house and built a new one more suited to his social standing. Through his first marriage to the daughter of Senator Fulford, he became the heir to Fulford Place, the family home of the Fulfords of Brockville. MacLean ordered a larger but less ornamented copy of the house from architect Robert Findlay, a Scottish architect. From 1890 to 1930, Findlay designed some thirty houses for the Montréal elite along the Golden Mile, and in Westmount. Mull Hall was completed in 1916. Its name commemorated the ancestral home of the MacLean clan on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. Comprised of thirty-five rooms, the mansion with its limestone exterior walls, extensive veranda overlooking the lake, slate roof and decorative hand-curved interior woodwork, stood high above the river, reminiscent of seigniorial manors. The hip roof, originally covered with cedar shingles, is now replaced by sheets of ridged copper leaves.
In 1940 the Fathers of Sainte-Croix acquired the property for a nominal sum, using the hall for a novitiate and continuing the farm. For eighteen years the Fathers supported themselves by cultivating the farm while training several generations of lay brothers, missionaries and priests. However, as they experienced financial burdens, their ability to support themselves decreased, and in 1958, "Les Pères de Sainte-Croix" were forced to sell the property to a real estate developer. The mansion thus stood empty throughout the winter, while plans were being drawn up for a high rise apartment building. It was saved from demolition at almost the last possible moment by Mrs. May Beatrice Stewart, who bought the mansion and resold it to the City of Pointe-Claire for $1.
Numerous interested groups presented proposals to the City outlining possible uses for the newly acquired mansion. A planning committee was formed, and Mrs. "Vi" Duncanson's proposal was accepted by all, and therefore the mansion became a cultural centre. The restoration and renovations were entrusted to Guy Gérin-Lajoie. It is to his credit that the MacLean mansion has retained the character and ambiance of its original style while fulfilling its functional role. The official opening of Stewart Hall was held on February 16, 1963.
The building now houses a branch of Pointe-Claire Public Library, Stewart Hall Art Gallery and Art Lend. Stewart Hall also offers various high standard cultural programs to the community.
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