1897 Bicycle Map of Montreal

1897 map of Montreal area cycling routes from the BANQ archives: the best cycling routes are indicated by dotted red lines while “normal” cycling routes are traced in solid red (click map to enlarge).

The preferred routes include Sherbrooke, Sainte-Catherine, Saint-Laurent, Saint-Michel, Notre-Dame, and Chemin des Carrières, as well as the more scenic waterfront roads. Interestingly, the industrial canal-side was also marked as prime cycling route a century before it was revitalized with a bike path.

Despite hundreds of new kilometers of bike paths and lanes, Montreal’s 2010 cycling network pales in comparison, the most glaring difference being the abundance of North-South connections that were available to cyclists a century ago. Of course none of the routes on the 1897 map were reserved exclusively for bicycles (not to mention many were likely unpaved and splattered with horse crap).

None-the-less, this glimpse into a nineteenth-century cyclists’ world is a reminder that the progress we have seen in the past 5 years is a drop in the bucket compared to what cyclists lost to twentieth century urban planning priorities.

4 comments

  1. Amazing where one could get to by Interurban/streetcar in 1897, Lachine, Ahuntsic, Bout de L’Isle.

    The map is remarkable from the modern point of view as to what is NOT in place in the way of bridges and railways.

    Wonderful.

    Thank You!

  2. Wow, what a find. But don’t forget that cars barely existed in 1897. Cycling at that time was the ‘modern’ way of getting around!

    “First insure your bicycle”: it would seem that bicycle theft was a problem back then too….

  3. Hummm, j’ai du mal avec le passage où on laisse entendre qu’il y avait plus de pistes cyclables alors que maintenant. Cette carte ne représente pas les pistes cyclables, mais bien les routes bitumées. Comme il n’y avait pas de voitures, elles étaient par défaut des pistes cyclables, avec des chars et des chevaux.

    Est-ce que je me trompe?

    Belle trouvaille néanmoins.

  4. I was intrigued by the red square with “peloquin hotel”. I found this

    “A very large church, built in 1851, stands near the car track, and bears a strong resemblance to the celebrated St. Anne de Beaupre, near Quebec. The illustration shows one of the wayside shrines so numerous in the country parts of Quebec Province. This particular shrine (which has a figure of the Virgin in the turret on the roof) is placed on the road-side between Sault-aux-Recollets and Peloquin’s. Peloquin is a name very well known to Montrealers, the hotel being one of the most popular outside of Montreal, and a favourite resort for bicycle clubs, driving parties, the Montreal Tandem Club, and the Montreal Hunt Club. ” http://www.oldandsold.com/articles05/montreal-5.shtml

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