Westmount places
Metcalfe Avenue /1

The history behind the familiar: A glimpse at Metcalfe Avenue during the turn of the century – part 1

By Michael Walsh

Previously published on October 7, 2017

To find extraordinary things, go to the ordinary streets!

Mehmet Murat Ildan

Metcalfe Avenue is a street I walk down on a daily basis. Whether it is walking our dog, going to the local pharmacy, the corner store or dry cleaner, Metcalfe is readily accessible through various lanes and major streets. In the 18th century, this area was filled with orchards that grew, amongst other fruit, the famous Montreal Melon. Today, several large apartment buildings loom over houses that were built over a century ago. These huge buildings always pique my interest – specifically, what gave way (and ultimately lost) to allow the construction of these structures? More interestingly, what stories did these residences and their occupants hold?

Charles Metcalfe -

Charles Theophilus Metcalfe – Image: Wikimedia Commons

Let’s step back in time, to the late 1800s and have a glimpse at Metcalfe Avenue during the turn of the century.

Metcalfe Avenue is named in honour of Charles Theophilus Metcalfe, 1st Baron Metcalfe (1785-1846) governor-in-chief of the province of Canada (1843). A seasoned colonial administrator, his experience included: provisional governor-general of India (1833) and governor of Jamaica (1839). His legacy is reflected in the abandonment of forced Anglicisation in British colonial policy and also that French and English have equal legislative status.

‘In the 18th century, this area was filled with orchards that grew, amongst other fruit, the famous Montreal Melon.’

Our walk begins at the junction of Metcalfe Avenue and Hillside Lane and continues where the street intersects Cote St. Antoine.

156 Metcalfe -

156 Metcalfe

144 Metcalfe (Former Civic Number)
M. J. Hogan, contractor – 1894

150 Metcalfe (Former Civic Number)
Miss Annie Moodie – 1894

156 Metcalfe
Charles Webster, clerk – 1894
Robert Evans, commercial traveller – 1894

160 Metcalfe -

160 Metcalfe

160 Metcalfe
G. J. Brown, George Brown & Company – 1894
Alfred Rubbra, manager Laurie Engine Company – 1902

The Laurie Engine Company, established in 1871, manufactured steam engines. The Montreal tramways used their engines, as did the various municipal water plants.

“Scotch and Canadian irons are used and great care is taken in all construction details, particularly in the matter of fly wheels, which are put together with Norway iron bolts…”
Street Railway Journal, October 1895

164 Metcalfe
George Dryden – 1902

168 Metcalfe (Former Civic Number)
William Pendelton, clerk – 1894

173 Metcalfe (Former Civic Number)
William Wilson, agent – 1902
C. Noseworthy – 1902
Rodger Mrs. G. widower, T.A. – 1902

175 Metcalfe (Former Civic Number)
James Smith, superintendent, Cote Saint Antoine Water Works – 1894

164 Metcalfe -

164 Metcalfe

Cote Saint Antoine Water Works was the forerunner of the Montreal Water & Power Company.

181 Metcalfe
W. L. McFarlane, electrician – 1902

212 Metcalfe (Former Civic Number)
McCann Mrs. H, widower, Alfred, Methodist Minister -1902

218 Metcalfe -

218 Metcalfe

215 Metcalfe (Former Civic Number)
C. A. Hutchison, blacksmith and locksmith

218 Metcalfe
George Dawson – 1902

220 Metcalfe
Brenton A. MacNab, managing editor Montreal Star – 1902

The Montreal Star was founded in 1869 and remained in publication until 1979.

222 Metcalfe
D. J. Coulson -1902

232 Metcalfe -

232 Metcalfe

232 Metcalfe
D. P. Williams – 1902
Robert Kellond -1902

“Kellond, Robert Arthur, Solicitor and Attorney for Inventors… His father belonged to an old Devonshire family, and was the only son of the name who emigrated to Canada about 1850. His grandfather had the honour of fighting under Lord Nelson on board the Viceroy at the battle of Trafalgar… he does a large business as a solicitor and attorney for inventors, and as counsel and expert in trade mark causes, his clientele including many of the largest manufacturing firms and corporations throughout Canada.”
A Cyclopaedia of Canadian Biography, Being Chiefly Men of the Time, Volume 2

Hugh Beckham, real estate agent – 1894

233 Metcalfe (Former Civic Number)
W. A. Matley, Ames, Holden & Company – 1894

“In the early years of the twentieth century, Saint-Hyacinthe’s bourgeois struggled to restore the boom conditions of the 1880s and early 1890s… The municipal government played a role in the reopening of the former Seguin-Lalime shoe factory. To keep the factory running, council made an attractive offer to the Ames Holden shoe company of Montreal. In 1903, Ames Holden was essentially given the Seguin-Lalime property on Cascades Street (worth $50,000) plus a bonus of $8,000 and a 10-year tax exemption. In exchange the company was required to pay $400,000 in wages over the ensuing 10 years. By 1913, the factory was operating at, or near, former levels: 455 workers were earning $200,000 per year wages.”
Families in Transition: Industry and Population in Nineteenth-Century Saint-Hyacinthe, Peter Gossage

234 Metcalfe -

234 Metcalfe

234 Metcalfe (Former Civic Number)
J. A. Hardisty, manager, E. B. Eddy Company – 1902

“Founded in 1866, the company was one of the largest producers of lumber in the Ottawa Valley. As mayor of Hull, Eddy introduced a bill creating the City of Hull. The E.B. Eddy Manufacturing Company was incorporated in 1886 producing tissue paper, printing paper, brown paper and newsprint (as well as matches). In 1998 the Ezra Eddy name disappeared for good when Domtar Inc., acquired E. B. Eddy Ltd and its U.S. affiliate.”
I Know That Name!: The People Behind Canada’s Best Known Brand Names from Elizabeth Arden to Walter Zeller – Mark Kearney, Randy Ray

239 Metcalfe (Former Civic Number)
W. B. Sills, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society – 1894
Thomas A. Crossley – 1902
W. F. Sills, Sills & Proctor, Stenographers – 1894

252 Metcalfe -

250 Metcalfe

250 Metcalfe
Alfred Hawksworth, manager, Merchants Cotton Company – 1902

“In keeping with the National Policy, the Canadian government slapped a heavy customs tariff on imported cotton, and Canadian cotton goods became much sought after. In 1880… the Merchants Manufacturing Company proceeded to build a factory in St. Henri… cotton was spun and woven and, in addition, cotton cloth was bleached for use in shirt making. In 1900, the Canadian government lowered the tariff on English cotton by a third, a measure that cut into the profits of Merchants Manufacturing. In 1905… the shareholders of Merchants Cotton Company came to an agreement with four other major companies including the Colonial Bleaching and Printing Company, to found Dominion Textiles… it remained the second largest cotton mill in the country… manufacturing covering both sides of St. Ambroise street.”
The Lachine Canal: Riding the Waves of Industrial and Urban Development 1860-1950

252 Metcalfe -

252 Metcalfe

252 Metcalfe
George G. O Halloran, White, O Halloran & Buchanan Solicitors – 1902)

254 Metcalfe (Former Civic Number)
John W. Ross, P. S. Ross & Sons – 1902

“Ross played an important role in the development of accountancy as a profession. When he began practice in 1858 anyone could claim to be an accountant. There were no accountants’ organizations, required qualifications, or ethical standards. Ross worked together with his friend James Court to bring some order into the profession. On 11 June 1879 they assembled 11 other accountants to form an association. The group was granted a provincial charter on 24 July 1880, incorporating the Association of Accountants in Montreal. Only members of this association would have the right to use the designation “Chartered Accountant” after their names. It was the first organization of chartered accountants to be incorporated in North America.”
Dictionary of Canadian Biography

Images: Michael Walsh

Bouton S'inscrire à l'infolettre – WestmountMag.caRead other articles by Michael Walsh

Michael Walsh -

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 michaelld2003 or through his blog Westmount Overlooked

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  1. Maureen Micks

    Wonderful to be able to read about these lovely homes and that they look so well maintained today. Thanks for your time in writing this article and the photos. Having lived on Prince Albert for many years with my parents and sisters I fondly remember all the walking we shared and imagining who lived in these homes way back when.

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