The tiny house at 175 de la Montagne is quite probably the oldest house in Griffintown. In fact, it is so old that it was once part of a neighbourhood that predates even historic Griffintown.
Although the its architecture suggests that it was built around 1825-35, this house suddenly appears on an 1865 map of the neighbourhood.
Urbanist David Hanna has attempted to unravel the mystery of this temporal incongruity. The original owner was named Andrew Keegan, a schoolteacher at a school for Irish Catholics in Pointe-Saint-Charles. In 1862, Keegan built a row of four rental housing units on de la Montagne. Hanna has hypothesized that Keegan moved the little old house from its original location about 100 metres away on Murray street, which was being widened at the time. Either that or Keegan had a penchant for building excellent replicas of past architectural eras…
Keegan himself moved into the little house and named it “Mount Temple Place.”
Interestingly, Hanna refers to this house as the last vestige of the “Brickfields neighbourhood”. Apparently from 1825 until at least 1847 there was a brick factory located in the triangle made up of de la Montagne, Ottawa and Murray streets, which leant its identity to the surrounding neighbourhood, which also counted two groceries, a bakery, a bar and a hotel. The name Griffintown was already on the map at that time – after Mary Griffin who subdivided the land and planned out the street grid around 1804 – but Brickfields was located further west, off the street grid in the western part of that grid.
I remember discovering about a decade ago that the area downtown by the canal went by the rather mythical-sounding name of “Griffintown”. Now that Griffintown has entered the common vernacular, an even more mysterious place-name surfaces from the murky distant past… A quick search didn’t turn up any other references to the Brickfields – does anyone know where I can get more info? (And why do I have the sense that mentioning this on the web is inviting the next wave of condo developers to appropriate the name?)
Source: David Hanna, Griffintown: son histoire et son cadre bâti (PDF)
More on Griffintown coming soon!