City of Westmount
Council Minutes – 1951-1967
The 50s and into the 60s bring many expropriations
By Michael Walsh
Let’s continue our journey, back in time, through the words contained in the City Council Minutes. The 1950s was the post-war period. Austerity measures were relaxed and one has a sense of the City’s rapid development. Specifically, the construction of huge houses, with large underground garages, on the City’s upper level coupled with new Westmount residents calling “Upper Westmount” their home.
The striking aspect of that period involves the large amount of expropriations that occurred. For example, the huge Dorchester Area Development scheme saw massive numbers of houses expropriated, and demolished, by the City. The scheme also affected Tupper, Hallowell and Gladstone Avenues. In addition, the extension of Saint Catherine Street westward, beyond the Glen Road saw the removal of many homes and several on York Avenue.
Interestingly, the City also expropriated several houses on Greene Avenue to create the large municipal parking lot that still exists.
… the huge Dorchester Area Development scheme saw massive numbers of houses expropriated, and demolished, by the City.
Expropriations were not limited to the City of Westmount; the Government of Canada also expropriated many municipal properties. Specifically, many homes along Selby Street were removed, through an act of Parliament, to create an artery for the new Trans-Canada Highway. In addition, a large tract of land was expropriated by the Canadian Government between Dorchester Boulevard, St. Catherine Street and Greene Avenue, to allow construction of today’s RCMP Quebec Headquarters (Division C). (Now you know why the building is architecturally out of character).
Let’s continue browsing the Council minutes and appreciate how, step-by-step, municipal officials created the City of Westmount’s special uniqueness and charm.
That the Mayor and Secretary-Treasurer be and are hereby authorized to sign an agreement of sale to le curé et les marguilliers de la paroisse Ste-Thérèse-d’Avila de Sherbrooke, the Casavant Pipe Organ No. 1148 in its present condition and position in Victoria Hall, including the front decorative pieces and accompanying woodwork, the whole for the price of $10,000…
– Council Minutes, November 5, 1951
That the Council hereby grants permission to 401 City of Westmount (Fighter) Squadron (Auxiliary) R.C.A.F. to use the title “City of Westmount” and considers that the City has been honoured by this request and its citizens will be proud to know that the words “City of Westmount” will be carried in the title of a unit with such fine tradition and record of service.
– Council Minutes, November 17, 1952
That Brigadier K. C. Blackader be and is hereby appointed Director of Civil Defence…
– Council Minutes, March 23, 1953
Whereas the property at 366 Kitchener Avenue owned by Her Majesty the Queen, is being used by the Department of National Defence as married quarters…
– Council Minutes, April 27, 1953
That the City of Westmount confer upon The Royal Montreal Regiment (MG) the title, privilege, honour and distinction of marching through the streets of the City of Westmount on all ceremonial occasions with bayonets fixed, colours flying and bands playing; and
That this grant be conferred in a ceremonial manner… by way of an illuminated address on parchment…
– Council Minutes, April 5, 1954
That this Council wishes to extend to all ranks of the Royal Montreal Regiment thanks and appreciation for the gift of its first regimental flag, presented to the Mayor on Sunday, November 14, 1954 and broken from a masthead over the main entrance to the City Hall at the ceremony of granting civic honours to the said Regiment.
In view of the historical nature of this gift, Alderman de Lalanne and the General Manager were requested to study the matter of the most appropriate way in which the R.M.R. flag could be exhibited and displayed on a permanent basis in the City Hall.
– Council Minutes, November 15, 1954
That a permit be granted to Boyne Loyal Orange Lodge #401 to occupy 1079-81 Greene Avenue as a Lodge Hall…
– Council Minutes, August 22, 1955
That the application be granted of J. J. Mendelssohn, Architect, on behalf of the owner (Mrs. Henry Goldenberg) of 4451 St. Catherine Street, for alterations to the exterior thereof.
– Council Minutes, September 4, 1956
That a permit be granted to the Municipal Chapter of the Montreal, I. O. D. E. to occupy 4112 Western Avenue for the purposes of the Order…
– Council Minutes, November 5, 1956
Received from Principal James of McGill thanking the Council of the City’s contribution of $25,000 to the Building Fund Campaign of the University.
– Council Minutes, November 26, 1956
That the City do grant to The School Commissioners for the Municipality of the City of Westmount an option to purchase part of the Westmount Athletic Grounds and the Club House thereon erected comprising a total area of 114,118 square feet, more or less, for a price of $250,000…
– Council Minutes, January 20, 1958
That this City has no objections to tenants of the Prince Albert Hall located at 4885 Sherbrooke Street, being granted special permits for the serving of alcoholic beverages at wedding functions held in such Hall.
– Council Minutes, July 7, 1958
That the City accept as a gift from Miss Alice Lighthall, and this in accordance with her mother’s wishes, the portrait of the late W. D. Lighthall, and that a letter of acknowledgment and thanks be forwarded to Miss Lighthall. (The painting is no longer with the City’s collection.)
– Council Minutes, August 4, 1958
… that the Police Department intends to intensify the enforcement of traffic regulations on imprudent drivers and that it is investigating the feasibility of introducing portable radar equipment… He also announced that it is intended to employ members of the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires for the patrol and vigilation of parking areas.
– Council Minutes, October 6, 1958
Alderman Garber presented a resume of the application of The Study Corporation for permission to occupy 1 Braeside Place for the purposes of a girls’ school and also summarized the arguments presented to General Committee by a delegation of residents from that area as to why the Council should not grant this permit.
– Council Minutes, April 27, 1959
That a permit be granted to Familiale St. Joseph to add a story to their building bearing civic number 500 Claremont Avenue…
– Council Minutes, July 13, 1959
Copies… of a letter from the Rotary Club of Westmount… stating that it had taken up an option to purchase the property at 1 and 2 Prospect Street, which it proposed to alter for use as a residence for not more than twenty-two elderly persons, to be operated by the Family Welfare Association of Montreal.
– Council Minutes, October 5, 1959
Alderman Common read the following letter dated February 22, which had been received from Sir Edward Ford, Private Secretary to Her Majesty the Queen:
Dear Mr. Mayor,
I am writing to thank you for your letter of the of February 19 to say that The Queen will be delighted to accept a supply of maple syrup each spring, for the replenishment of the Jug, which the City of Westmount gave to Her Majesty last June. It should be addressed to The Master of the Household, Buckingham Palace.
– Council Minutes, February 29, 1960
The Mayor reported that in view of the intention of the authorities of the City of Montreal to apply to the Legislature for additional powers authorising that city to annex neighbouring municipalities, he had written to the Hon. Jean Lesage, Premier of the Province of Quebec… recording Westmount’s strong opposition to this proposal and setting forth in positive terms the reasons why it was considered necessary to raise objections to the Montreal petition.
– Council Minutes, January 16, 1961
That the City enter into an agreement with Her Majesty the Queen in the right of Canada (Department of National Defence) with respect to the installation of a siren on Surrey Gardens as part of the attack warning system…
– Council Minutes, February 5, 1962
That the congratulations of the Council be extended to Mr. John Henderson, citizen of this City, and a member of the Westmount Lawn Bowling Club, for his feat of winning the Lawn Bowling Singles Championship of the World… at the World’s Fair in Seattle…
– Council Minutes, November 5, 1962
The Mayor reported that last evening he had attended a meeting of all the mayors of the municipalities on the Island of Montreal, with the exception of the Mayor of the City of Montreal… and that this meeting expressed its formal opposition to any annexation by the City of Montreal of all or part of any municipality on the Island otherwise than is accordance with existing legislation.
– Council Minutes, February 14, 1963
That the tender be accepted of the firm of Beaver Demolition Company… for the demolition of the buildings and other structures in Group I of the Dorchester Area Development in the amount of $9,460.
– Council Minutes, December 2, 1963
That the tender be accepted of Charles Duranceau Limited… for the renovation of Westmount Park in the amount of $188,364…
– Council Minutes, March 19, 1964
It was reported to Council… on February 15, 1965 the Proclamation of the National Flag of Canada by Queen Elizabeth II was read to those assembled in front of the City Hall… and that the Union Jack was lowered and the Canadian Flag raised over the City Hall. The Union Jack was presented to the Mayor who ordered it be placed in the Archives of the City of Westmount. (The flag is no longer with the City’s collection.)
– Council Minutes, February 15, 1965
The… delegation representing the Selby Street Area Tenants Association. Said Tenants at present facing expropriation of their homes… The reason being that an Act of Parliament… was passed… to allow expropriation… to allow construction of the East-West Artery of the Trans Canada Highway.
– Council Minutes, December 6, 1965
Mayor Tucker reported that the City of Montreal did not intend to proceed with the building of a tower at Expo ’67 due to tight money and therefore the City of Westmount has no more interest in this project.
– Council Minutes, January 4, 1966
That the City of Westmount undertake the preparation of an Urban Renewal Scheme of the area bounded by Atwater Avenue, St. Catherine Street, Glen Road, the Canadian Pacific Railway right-of-way, Hallowell Street and St. Antoine Street, and having an area of approximately 90 acres…
– Council Minutes, January 4, 1966
Mayor Tucker… confirming the City of Westmount’s sponsorship of the “Plaza of the Universe” and congratulating the City of Westmount on being the first municipality in the Montreal area to announce its support for Expo ’67.
– Council Minutes, August 1, 1966
Whereas the Government of Canada has stated that it intends to expropriate from the City of Westmount property bounded by St. Catherine Street, Greene Avenue and Dorchester Street containing 44,715 square feet… the City will accept $800,000 in full and final settlement of all claims arising out of the said expropriation.
– Council Minutes, September 5, 1967
Whereas October 17, 1967 was declared Centennial Day in Westmount: Whereas the official dedication ceremonies, in the evening, of the Centennial Reference Room in the Westmount Library, the newly re-built Melville Sailing Pond and the Royal Canadian Engineers’ Centennial Flagpole emplacement in Westmount Park, were so well attended by Westmount Citizens…
– Council Minutes, November 6, 1967
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I would like to thank Ron Zemancik and Mélanie Presseau-Dumais (Royal Montreal Regiment Museum) as well as Kayleigh Girard (City of Westmount) for their assistance.
Feature image: Elizabeth II visit to Westmount (1959). Westmount Mayor John Crosbie Cushing presenting a jug of maple syrup to the Queen. To his right is Montreal Mayor Sarto Fournier. Picture taken by Ted Harrison outside City Hall. Courtesy City of Westmount
Michael Walsh is a long-time Westmount resident. He is happily retired from nearly four decades in the field of higher education technology. A “professional student” by nature, his academic training, and publishing, include statistical methodology, mycology and animal psychology. During this period, he was also an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces. Prior to moving to Montreal, he was contracted by the Ontario Ministry of Education evaluating bilingual primary and secondary school programs. Today, he enjoys spending time with his (huge) Saint Bernard while discovering the city’s past and sharing stories of the majestic trees that grace the parks and streets. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his blog Westmount Overlooked