Mile End in 1840

Mile End 1840s
Montreal seen from Mile End, 1840

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.”

Mile End 1850s
Mile End Road (present-day avenue du Mont-Royal) in 1859

Crossposted from Urbanphoto — also read about the origins of Mile End’s name.


  1. Could you please say where the pictures came from. The authorship of the painting would be particularly helpful. Thank you.

  2. Hi Michael,

    If you click on the images you’ll be taken to pages on the McCord Museum’s website that contain detailed information about them.

    The painting is called “Montreal and I. St. Helen’s from Near The Exercising Ground, Mile End, July 1840” and the artist is Philip John Bainbridge.

    The photo was taken by William Notman.

  3. Lovely post. So nice to read early impressions of the city, especially my neighbourhood. Season’s greetings to you all.

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