Browsing through the Gazette’s archives, which have been digitized and made accessible by Google News (at least until 1989), I came across a nice description of Mile End in 1840, when it was sparsely-populated farmland a good 20-minute carriage ride from the edge of Montreal. It comes from Joseph Charles, who lived in the area as a boy.
“We moved out to the Mile End and lived for a time in a great big old stone house on Mr. Jacob Wurtele’s farm. It stood far from the road and there was a fine avenue of basswood, elm and poplar trees in front. Here my mother taught school. The children came in from all round.
The Spaulding farm was a fine farm then, run by Mrs. Spaulding though her husband was living, but he was old and feeble. There was one son, Bill, who worked on the farm, and her son James Spaulding kept the Mile End Hotel. There was another large hotel kept by a French family, and there was a large tannery (Blair’s, I think) and Charlton’s market garden, and about a dozen houses formed the Mile End of that day.
There were stone quarries, too, some old ones filled with water, fine, fresh and cool, the swimming places of all the boys around. There were broad sand pits, too, where we boys used to play and hunt for martens’ and swallows’ nests in the sand bank.
But my mother wished to get her two oldest boys better educated, so she moved into town to the Main street, St. Lawrence suburbs.”