The Restoration of Saint-Paul Street
May 24, 2016 / Posted by Heritage Montreal - Collaborator
Saint-Paul Street, a true symbol of Montréal’s rich history, will be revamped in the coming months! It was named after the city’s founding father Paul de Chomedy de Maisonneuve and has been a major commercial artery since its inception. Now, it will undergo construction until 2018 — though work will cease briefly for Montréal’s 375th anniversary in 2017 — in order to revitalize this historic walkway.
Though the current project includes plans to use granite to pave the road and granulated concrete for the sidewalks, people have been using many different materials since the street’s humble beginnings. This is because from the moment Ville-Marie was founded to the early 19th century, the street was paved in sections by all the local business owners, making the general quality of the artery quite patchy! Sometimes, quality materials weren’t used but it is important to remember that this historically rich street has been paved since the early 1800s.
Is there such a thing as a perfect restoration?
People have been asking this for well over a hundred years! Indeed, a report published in 1888 by the City of Montréal revealed an analysis of different materials destined to be used for the paving of the street. This compelling study included comparisons with other American cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Chicago.
City developers analysed many different possibilities, and their report showed that the wood block paving method was privileged because it wasn’t noisy, yet wasn’t particularly resistant to deterioration which was a real problem since many horses flooded the streets at the time. The alternative, rustic bolder-based paving, was noisy but resistant. The study concluded that granite was the best material, especially in very busy areas, because of its durability and because maintaining it was cost-effective.
Enhancing the district’s history and heritage
The use of traditional materials such as granite for the restoration of this artery is reminiscent of the city’s rich history and fundamental identity. Indeed, if you have walked or driven along Saint-Paul Street, you have bared witness to something truly magical: an emblem of the city’s legacy and a concrete historical collage. So next time you’re out for a stroll to see the district’s many historical sites, fulfilling your way through a sea of workers and tourists, take the time to stop by many neighbouring important authentic jewels of times past such as the Marché Bonsecours or the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel.