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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

1ière avenue, part 2: LaSalle

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I’ve been putting it off for too long, but here finally is part two of my journey through Montreal’s various 1ière avenues.  As I said in the last post, the purpose of this series is to visit the first street of every series of numbered streets in the city and take photos.  In doing so, I hope to be able to show some of the city’s lesser-known neighbourhoods while looking for interesting things along the way.  More explanation of this project can be found in the first post, linked above.

Now, on to 1re Avenue in the borough of Lasalle.  I visited this street on the same rainy day as I did nearby Verdun but found a very different street.  Much like Verdun, Lasalle is a former independent municipality that was merged with Montreal in 2002 and failed to de-merge afterward.  This tends to be the case for many of the places where I’ve visited numbered streets which accounts for the reason why Montreal has so many.  One thing I noticed in particular is the street signs in Lasalle.  The borough has retained its municipal street sign design of white writing on a green background with a picture of the Moulin Fleming.  I find it to be a very attractive street sign and it is nice to see local street signs that give a sense of place, rather than a generic sign for the entire city.

The street is only three blocks long on a typical Montreal grid.  The series of numbered streets go west until 90e Avenue near Lachine but is only a regular series of numbered streets until 16e Avenue where the grid stops, and the streets become more suburban.  After that, numbered streets only show up periodically with the streets in between having proper names.

The street begins at the Lachine Rapids at boul Lasalle.  A beautiful park runs along the waterfront from Verdun all the way to Lachine.

When thinking of Lasalle, the image of those white brick duplexes with the garages in the basement so typical of inner-ring Montreal suburbs usually first come to mind.  This generalisation is indeed more-or-less true, however, Lasalle has a sizable old section, mostly centred in the area with  streets on a grid from the Douglas Hospital to about 9e Avenue.  1re Avenue is typical of this old section of Lasalle, mostly populated by two story, brick duplexes with exterior staircases to the second floor apartment.

Rue Centrale is a commercial artery that intersects with the numbered streets running through the old section of Lasalle and acts as a kind of main street.  It’s a pleasant little street with a nice neighbourly feel and is more or less intact with few empty lots or parking where buildings should be.

Some more photos of the street after the jump.

The street ends at boul Champlain with the Aqueduc Canal separating old Lasalle from the newer suburban section to the north.

Next in this series: 1re Avenue, Part 3: Lachine.



  1. Back in the sixties I was working in LaSalle, stationed out of River St in Verdun, when the areas around 90th, Godbout, Red Cross, Bishop Power and Shevchenko were being opened up, and it was a sea of mud come spring.

    Newman was still just a trail from Dollard to Allard behind LaSalle Coke.

    The Harvey’s burger place at 90th and LaSalle had just opened and then served the best burgers in the area.

    The low-rise dwellings around the single-digit Avenues in LaSalle were not that imposing, and they extended East into Verdun beyond Lloyd George.

    A nice place to live with sun, for the most part, being able to reach the street and, back then, not wall to wall parked autos.

    Telephone numbers were just changing from ‘Named’ to all numbers, as in WEllington-8-1111 would become 938-1111, etc.

    Seven-Digit dialling came in middle Fifties.

    LaSalle had a then-new telephone exchange, that was one of the last to get a name, DOminic, which later became 36.

    Other late-named Montreal exchanges were TRiangle 87 downtown and OXford 69 in Pointe Claire.

    In the thirties, the ubiquitous Montreal Tramways BRIEFLY operated a single-track route west from Wellington at Woodland in Verdun via LaSalle Rd. to 2nd?? Ave in LaSalle with a wye at the latter location.

    Another urban legend way back when was that the City of Verdun was the largest city in Canada WITHOUT rail service, of course being not that far from Montreal downrown.

    However railway track did once come into Verdun, but for freight service.

    At one time the Verdun Industrial Complex was at the very South end of Atwater below LaSalle and had freight railway spurs in from the East beyond the CNR embankment on their freight bypass to Victoria bridge.

    On the South end of the VIC was River St., now named Rue Henri Duhamel, which crossed Rushbrooke and Wellington.

    But, the Verdun Industrial Complex is another story, now replaced by reasonable good taste housing rather than monolith 20-story blocks resembling something from a Communist-era 5 year plan.

  2. I don’t know where else to put this, but, here goes.

    Most people know of the now-abandoned LaSalle Coke Crane along the Lachine Canal.

    Here is a historic view of Montreal Light, Heat and Power’s coking plant on the south shore of the Lachine Canal, which later became LaSalle Coke, with the crane on the shore unloading coal from a canaller.

    A downbound canaller eases past on the Turcot Yard side.

    The whitish building beyond the canaller and St. Patrick St. was an steam electric generating station later known as Poste LaSalle in the Hydro Quebec era.

    The electric cables from this facility went up to a high tower which carried the cables far above the Lachine Canal AND CNR Turcot Yard, to another smaller tower at the foot of Cavendish at the West end of old Rose Bowl Lanes on Upper Lachine.

    Until 1956-57 LaSalle Coke manufactured coal gas which was then distributed thru gas mains to customers. Later Natural Gas arrived by pipeline from the West, making coal gas and, ultimately, LaSalle Coke, redundant.

    To manufacture the coal gas, raw coal was heated in large narrow brick lined ovens called retorts, and, as heated, the coal gave off coal gas and many other byproducts like tars and asphalts.

    Many of these byproducts were valuable in the chemical industry.

    The raw coal gas was ‘scrubbed’ then stored in the rising and falling tanks, falsely know as gasometers, to the rear of the photo.

    The solid that was left in the retorts bereft of it’s gas and byproducts was called coke, which was an admirable smokeless fuel in it’s own right.

    Coke is a porous solid and will float on water.

    Coke was used in steel making and was used furnaces in homes. Our house on Saranac burned coke for hot water heating, coal for heating water for sinks, bathtub and laundry.

    The coke in the retorts was white hot and was pushed out in a lava-like flow and then quenched by water.

    Coke being pushed from an oven.

    This quenching made a HUGE cloud of steam which rose like an atomic cloud for almost a mile and, when cold, was visible all over the West end and from the South shore.

    The following Video gives an idea of what went on in the hellish conditions in a coking plant.

    I used to sit in the classrooms on the third floor of Monklands-nee-West Hill High School and watch the steam rise and the smoke plume from the tall brick chimney at LaSalle Coke.

  3. Another good post in an interesting series. The border of Verdun and Lasalle takes place between Fayolle and Gerald streets. The area between Fayolle and the Douglas is called Crawford Park. And the area of Lasalle that 1st avenue is in is usually referred to as The Bronx. You may still see some signage in the area such as “Bronx Depanneur”, etc.


  4. Your post says that “It’s a pleasant little street with a ice neighbourly feel and is more or less intact with few empty lots or parking where buildings should be.”

    I fail to see how is this neighbourhood of boring architecture different of so many neighbourhoods of boring architecture. Why so many triplex, duplex, where is the beautiful architecture that made Montréal famous? I ask this question with respect, because I want to see what others see…

  5. I don’t find the architecture in this neighbourhood boring at all. It has an interesting mix of different styles from different time periods that add up to make a nice residential neighbourhood in my opinion. I’m not sure what this “beautiful architecture that made Montréal famous” that you speak of is because, for me, duplexes and triplexes with exterior staircases is the dominant building type in Montreal and is, in my opinion, very beautiful.

  6. I grew up on the corner of 3rd and Broadway, a few blocks from where many of these pictures were taken. Brings back memories. Our phone exchange was Pontiac-6 which was 366-xxxx. One of the things that was interesting at the time was how many businesses there were, built into/out of peoples houses in the neighbourhood. Just on our block there was a barber shop built out of someone’s basement and a little further down the same block, a candy store. Almost like coffe shops on every second corner that we see today except with some uniqueness.

  7. When ‘Gas’ for gas stoves, etc. was produced as a byproduct of the retorting of coal into coke at a Gas Works such as LaSalle Coke, the gas produced, after cleaning, was often stored in telescoping tanks which rose and fell in concert with gas production and usage.

    This allowed the coking retorts to run at a steady pace 24/7/365 falling behind and getting ahead of requirements as needed.

    A rising and falling gas holder.

  8. I have a question:
    I would like to know if the green riverside//bike path that goes from Verdun to almost Mercier Bridge was always there?
    Did the city had to move/destroy some building to create this 10km beautiful riverside?
    What was there before? (I the Parc des Rapides, it was a water dam i think.. but elsewhere..?)


  9. I think LaSalle is one of the ugliest boroughs in Montreal. The intersection at Dollard and Newman is just hideous.

    LaSalle reeks, too.

  10. Grew up in the Bronx Park area of LaSalle during the 60’s and early 70’s. My first home was at Broadway and 4th ave., then moved to 14th Ave. then to Bonnier.
    I attended Bronx Park school situated between 5th and 6th ave. at Centrale.
    I too remember the golf course just west of 16th ave. and i remember the shopping centre and LaSalle High being built.

  11. I grew up on Centrale St. In the 50’s in the Lasalle Bronx.  Great memories of exploring the neighborhood,including the river, and the entire bush area that led to the golf course before Bishop Power was built. Of course we had more freedom then and parents expected us to just go out and play, unlike today. I remember being outside almost the entire day in the cold winters, when it was cold long enough to have an outside skating rink at Leroux Park or the ones the Presentation Brothers used at the Catholic School on 9 th Ave. Later we moved to that ” ugly” area around Newman and Shefchenko, and I missed the Bronx.

  12. I went to Bronx Park School and lived in at 1st and Broadway, we used to go to the store that had candy and also sold fish….I loved living in the Bronx, we then moved to Newman Street and I went to Cecil Newman School and really Missed 1st ave and the great duplexs…..

  13. Just remembered the store was called Adams’

  14. Hello,
    I also grew up on 4th ave in LaSalle and I went to Bronx Park till grade 5.
    My Dad moved out west in 1976 when I was 10. Your photos bring back many fond memories of a grand childhood. The old golf course was neat but was ripped down years ago. my older sister went to LaSalle High the first year it opened, all six of us kids
    Loved our time in old LaSalle. Hi to all my buds from 4th ave. Kevin, Art, Richard,Danny,
    Eric and my cousin Wendy! Thanks for a great childhood!!!

    Randy Gill

  15. I lived in Riverside park but from 1962 to the early 70’s I was in the Bronx park area everyday. Went to school at Leroux high on 9th ave. from 1960 t0 1963. Went to the Lasalle cinema remember the 3 movies for .50 cents then it went to .75 cents. We would go to the cinema around 6pm and get out past mid-night. Then we would walk from 7th ave. and central to 4th ave. and lasalle blvd. to Adams smoke meat and have their special, 2 hamburger patties on an open end bun with fries gravy and peas and cole slaud for .50 cents. Right next door to the cinema was the pool hall. Those years were the best years to be a teenager and have such a special place to hang around. The leroux park, the old dam, the Lachine rapids, the golf course, the streets of the Bronx, the great music from those years, CKGM, CFCF, CFOX, Dave Boxer, Dean Hagopian, it was a very special time one which will never be duplicated. I miss it so much.

  16. I have so many fond memories of LaSalle – grew up there in 50’s and 60’s – lived on 6th Avenue between Central and Broadway. Loved the old depaneur on 6th. Favorite memories were wrecklessly crossing the dam on St. Lawrence and going fishing. Played hockey at Leroux and football. Went to Bronx Park – and my favourite little candy store at the corner of 6th and Central – then there was the old pool hall. Wow time flies

  17. I grew up on 5th Avenue and attended Bronx Park until grade 5. Some teacher names: Miss May (57/58), Miss Larocques (58/59), Miss Beardmore (59/60), Mrs Winter (60/61), Miss Charles (61/62). Miss Stella Lenden was principal starting in 59. Sad to say she passed away this past January (Stella Johannson).

  18. i spent the first almost 12 years of my life in Verdun, and then Lasalle, before we moved north of Montreal. i’ve often wondered whatever became of my childhood friends. when we lived in Lasalle we lived on the second story of one of those classic duplexes on 5th Avenue, across from Bronx Park where i attended elementary from grade 1 – 6 … good times.

  19. Yeahhh if u aint frp. LaSalle u aint gonna like LaSalle . Thats a fact. I loved LaSalle but one thing we have to keep in mind. That whole area, from Angrinon park ( where the Arshinoff company was ) to St Patricks st. Where LaSalle Coke and Monsanto were; is totally polluted. I could go on but it would take too long. Suffice to say. Its bad. BTW how did the Bronx in LaSalle get its name anyhow ?

  20. Adams store was owned by my Mom & Dad
    Family moved to BC in 1967

  21. I lived in the Bronx on 6th Avenue in early 60’s. Remember walking with skates to Leroux Park, playing football, daring to cross the dam by the river, swimming in the aqueduct. Epicierie on Broadway and 6th, and the corner store on broadway and 7th. Basement store on Broadway and 4th. Wooded area we used to hang out in between 9th and the golf course where we sold golf balls we found along the woods, yes the old theatre on 7th and the pool hall, some small store inbetween that had the greatest steamed hot dogs, and of course Bronx Park School where I got the strap for stealing some girls skipping rope. Great times

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