Square Victoria: An Oasis in the Heart of the Action
June 15, 2016 / Posted by Heritage Montreal - Collaborator
Located in the International District on the border of Old Montreal and downtown, Square Victoria has always been known as a peaceful place to enjoy coffee or lunch. Today, we will be going back in time to show you the history behind this iconic green space in one of Montréal’s busiest areas!
The story of the Square begins in 1810 when it was first used as a hay market to buy and sell food for farm animals. It was originally baptized the Place des Commissaires as a reference to the three city commissioners who were responsible for demolishing the fortifications which delimited what is known today as the historic district of Old Montreal.
On October 10 1860, the Market was renamed Square Victoria during a visit from Edward VII, Prince of Wales, in order to honour his mother, the Queen of England. A statue of Her Majesty was also erected by British artist Marshall Wood in 1872 and stands tall and proud to this day in the heart of the Square.
An ever-changing place
The Square’s surroundings transformed considerably in the 1960s, notably with the construction of the Montréal Stock Exchange Tower in 1964 by engineer Pier Luigi Nervi and architect Luigi Moretti. This 45-story skyscraper was to assume an imposing role in shaping Montréal’s urban silhouette for the years to come.
Some decades later in 1992, the World Trade Center Montréal would add to the Square’s already vibrant ambiance.
As you probably already know, the Square is also an entrance to Montréal’s famous underground city, one our most famous attractions!
A Parisian touch
Photo : stm.info
A visit to Square Victoria would be incomplete without stopping by the Entourage Guimard, one of the city’s most unique entrance points. In fact, it was a gift from the city of Paris when the Montréal metro opened in 1967. Those who have visited Paris before will recognize the French influence on this gateway by its Métropolitain-crested entrance, its richly decorated balustrades and its elegant white-tile tiling which is reminiscent of the Art Nouveau current’s grandest masterpieces.
The Entourage was restored in 2003 during renovations to the International District of Montréal in order to give it a new life. You can now gander at it when you exit the Square-Victoria-OACI metro onto Saint-Antoine Street!