Western Avenue /2
The history behind the familiar: the former residents that called Western Avenue their home
By Michael Walsh
November 25, 2021
This article is the continuation of Westmount Places: Western Avenue /1
At this point, let us delve a little deeper and discover the former residents, most lost to history, that called Western Avenue their home. (If you may indulge me, I have retained the name “Western Avenue” – a street name used for nearly a century – as a tribute to the street’s historical roots.)
4021 Western (daycare on Dawson grounds)
Health clinic operated by Te-Rio-Ken from the Caughnawaga Reserve – closed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons (1948)
4110 Western (demolished)
James Thom, Manager, Furness, Withy & Company (1900)
Founded in 1891, Furness, Withy & Company operated transatlantic Royal Mail and passenger services between the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. The company remained operational until 1980 when it was sold to C. Y. Tung, Hong Kong. The new owners disposed of the ships and by 1990, the Tung group sold Furness, Withy (Shipping) Ltd to Rudolf A. Oetker, who controlled Hamburg South America Line.
4112 Western (demolished)
Municipal Chapter of Montreal, I.O.D.E. (1956)
IODE House (1963)
The Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (today IODE Canada) is a women’s charitable organization providing scholarships, bursaries, book prizes and awards, and pursuing other philanthropic and educational projects in various Canadian communities. Today, the organization is comprised of chapters across Canada; however, none remain in Quebec.
4121-4129 Western (Denbigh apartments)
The Denbigh apartments (1899)
Captain Robert Busteed, Canadian Army, killed overseas on active duty (1944)
4131 Western (demolished)
William Francis Lighthall (1920)
He is described as the Dean of the notarial profession for his 73 years of active practice. His family were the co-seigneurs of Lacolle and, in 1825, built the current manor house. His son, William Douw Lighthall (also a notary), was Mayor of Westmount from 1900-1903.
James Rodger, Gault Brothers Company Limited (1900)
Gault Brothers and Company was founded in 1858 by Andrew Frederick Gault and his brother Robert Leslie. They were later joined by their brother-in-law Samuel Finley. The firm specialised in the distribution of haberdashery imported from Britain.
The early years of the company were difficult. By 1860, it had only $24,000 in capital and sales of between $75,000 and $100,000. Three years later, its capital had increased by only $7,000 and its sales remained the same. At this point, the young company is advised to be careful with its business. This advice did not seem to affect the brothers, who had a very large inventory in the early 1870s. They expanded their market and took risks across Canada. This strategy seemed to pay off, and by 1873 the company had sales of over two million dollars with capital ranging from $150,000 to $400,000. It opened branches in Winnipeg, Victoria and Manchester, England. That same year, the company moved into its new headquarters on St. Helen’s Street in Montreal.
– Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec
Alvaro S. Wheeler, Manager, W. Baker & Company (1900)
4167 Western (demolished)
Louis Alphonse-Boyer, Member of Parliament (1916)
Louis-Alphonse Boyer (May 31, 1839 – May 29, 1916) was a Quebec merchant and political figure. He represented Maskinongé in the Canadian House of Commons as a Liberal member from 1872 to 1878. He was born in Montreal, the son of Louis Boyer and Aurélie Mignault, and was educated at the Chambly and Jesuit Colleges. Boyer was the head of a lumber firm and a director of the Royal Canadian Insurance Company and La Banque Ville Marie. He also served as mayor of St-Lambert. In 1865, he married Alphonsine Meilleur, the daughter of Jean-Baptiste Meilleur. Boyer ran unsuccessfully in the federal riding of Jacques Cartier in 1904. Boyer operated a model farm in St-Lambert. He was flour inspector for Montreal from 1878 to 1888. His brother Arthur was a member of the Quebec assembly and the Canadian senate.
4173 Western (demolished)
Charles George Morgan, banker (1924).
He was the grandson of the late Andrew Porteous, who was a large landowner in what is now the city of Montreal, and was postmaster of Montreal nearly a century ago, while he later was head of the old firm of Porteous, Hancock and McGill, the last-named member of the firm being the merchant prince who later founded McGill University…
– Montreal Gazette, December 26, 1924
Post Office (1957)
Arthur H. Scott, former City of Westmount Alderman (1935)
The Western Apartments (1914)
Grace Baptist Church, Reverend W. T. Graham, pastor (1900)
Seventh-Day Adventist Church (1949)
John Leslie, Director, Henry Birks & Sons Ltd. (1939)
The Birks firm started as a gift shop that specialized in retail sales of jewellery, gold and silver pieces, and clocks, advertising articles in silver plate as well as sterling silver. A workshop to make jewellery was opened over the store in 1887. The following year an “artistic department” sold articles made in European workshops but purchased from American suppliers.
The company also bought supplies on the local market. On February 17, 1896, for instance, John Leslie, the administrator of the large silverware manufacturer Hendery and Leslie, signed an agreement with the Birks company making it the exclusive distributor for the city of Montreal of its non-religious gold and silver articles, with the exception of commemorative spoons. Henry Birks and Sons also published its first annual catalogue in 1896. The next year, the company purchased Hendery and Leslie along with its designs, equipment, and labour force. Thereafter the company founded by Birks produced its own merchandise and hence exercised stricter control over what it sold. At the same time, it also stated its intention to specialize in gold and silver.
– Dictionary of Canadian Biography
G. A. Smith, Foreman, Dominion Bridge Company (1900)
The Dominion Bridge Company, founded in Toronto in 1879 under the name Toronto Bridge Company, moved to Lachine in 1883 to manufacture iron and steel superstructures for bridges and buildings. Attracted by the vast expanses of low-cost land along the canal, the company was directly linked to Lachine’s development. It gradually expanded its complex, buying more land and adding a machine shop in 1897, then making more additions between 1925 and 1935.
A major employer in Lachine, Dominion Bridge built numerous skyscrapers and bridges across Canada, including the Reversing Falls railway bridge in Saint John, New Brunswick, and the bridge between Kanahwake and Lachine. The company and its subsidiary, Davie Industries, went bankrupt in 1998 and following the concerted efforts and protests of the unions, the assets were bought by the Group ADF Inc. and the FTQ Solidarity Fund. In 2003, the ADF threatened to close down the facilities, which were then bought by Cintube, a former partner of Dominion Bridge specialized in the precision bending of tubes, pipes, beams, and channels.
– Canada Heritage
Brig. General W. O. H. Dodds, Canadian Artillery (1919)
Flight Lieutenant Robert Duncan, R.C.A.F., killed in active duty (1943)
L. A. Lacombe
His sister, a Grey Nun of the Cross, founded the Mount Royal Industrial School at Leribe, Basutoland, today part of Lesotho. (1949)
Residence of H. D. FitzGerald, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, during World War Two.
L’Institut de Notre Dame du Bon Conseil, social & educational centre (1941)
The Institut Notre-Dame du Bon-Conseil was founded in 1923 in Montreal by Marie Gérin-Lajoie (1890-1971). Our vocation is to accompany families, young people and immigrants in a constantly changing Quebec and in a Church open to the world. The community is made up of women motivated by a desire to serve God and a thirst for greater justice.
Today the institute is located at 665, boulevard Gouin Est.
Fitzjames Ethelbert Browne (1935)
A third-generation member of the Browne family dynasty of Montreal who practised architecture in eastern Canada for more than a century. Born in Montreal on 22 September 1871, he attended Lincoln College at Sorel, Que. and trained under his father John James Browne. After the unexpected death of his father in August 1893, Fitzjames continued the real estate business which had been started in 1891 by his father as a sideline to their architectural practice.
First called John James Browne & Son, their company name was changed to The House of Browne after 1910. Most of their activity was devoted to real estate investment, to which Fitzjames was said to have brought “… great aptitude, high qualifications and strict integrity”. His designs for buildings, however, possess none of the distinctive character of the landmark works, which his father and his grandfather had designed. By 1914 he appears to have abandoned the profession. Fitzjames continued in the real estate business until 1930 and died in Montreal on 27 June 1938…
– Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950
Mr. Justice Maclennan (1925)
Western Apartments (1956)
The Forty Three Hundred – “Canada’s Outstanding Apartments” – The latter was changed to “with no hill to climb.” When constructed, the building had a 5,000 square foot rooftop terrace and a 20,000 square foot landscaped “relaxation area.” The apartments also contained a maid’s room. An east wing was built in 1960. “… Matchless unobtrusive servicing 24 hours daily – maid, valet, door-answering, car park and butler…” (1963)
Donald C. MacCallum, City of Westmount Mayor (1975)
Community of the Sisters of Charity of the General Hospital (1907)
Peter W. McLagan, City of Westmount Mayor (1925)
Lafayette Apartments (1925)
Henry Charles Telfer, Manager, Montreal Stock Yard Company (1925)
During the South African War, he was appointed by the British Government commissioner for the purchasing of remounts.
Duncan Peter Anderson (1952)
Dr. Duncan Peter Anderson, born at Chaudière Basin, Quebec, graduated from McGill University with a B.A. in 1890 and an M.D. in 1897. After graduation, he lectured at McGill and at one time was assistant pathologist at the Montreal General Hospital. With Dr. Albert Vipond, he founded the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Dr. Anderson was Assistant-Demonstrator in Pathology, 1898-1901, and Demonstrator in 1904.
– Canadian Medical Association Journal v. 68, pg. 184, 1953
Frank H. Norman, Dancing Master (1929)
A celebrated dance instructor, known today as the creator of the “Cross Walk Boston” waltz.
Has a coach house and stables.
Church of the Messiah, Retired Ladies’ Residence (1962)
John James Roberts, Alderman, City of Westmount (1947)
A contractor specializing in elaborate woodwork, his company is known for their work inside the Canadian House of Commons.
S. Cutter, Cutter & Sandahl (1900)
Thomas Kirby, banker (1920)
During his military career, he was a Captain of the old Fifth Royals earning the Fenian Raid medal.
H. Phillips, Private Secretary to the General Manager, Grand Trunk Railroad (1900)
William Mussell, Lyman, Knox & Company (1900)
Cette entreprise est née à Montréal en 1887 des efforts de Charles et F. Gold Lyman, et de James W. Knox. Charles Lyman était auparavant impliqué dans la Lyman, Sons & Co. Une succursale ouvrit ses portes à Toronto vers 1890. Leur inventaire comprenait des produits chimiques et pharmaceutiques, des remèdes brevetés, des parfums et des cosmétiques, des éponges et peaux de chamois, ainsi que d’autre marchandise destinée aux pharmacies. La compagnie devint une branche de la National Drug & Chemical Co. en 1905, mais continuera tout de même d’apparaître sous son nom initial dans les annuaires montréalais jusqu’en 1926.
– Anciennes bouteilles de médicament du Québec
Former residence of Adam Sherriff Scott (1887-1980).
“Adam Sherriff Scott was born in Pert, Scotland… and immigrated to Canada in 1911… In 1920 he joined the Beaver Hall Group… (His) work includes still life, seascapes, landscapes, posters, illustrations, and a large number of murals. He spent six years living with the Inuit and painting their daily lives. However, it was his murals that brought him most recognition, notably commissions for the Banff Springs Hotel, Bank of Commerce, Bell Canada, Chateau Frontenac, Hudson’s Bay Company, Imperial Bank, Montreal Board of Trade, Mount Royal Hotel, Royal York Hotel and the Mount Stephen Club… In the 1930s, he established the Adam Sheriff Scott School of Arts on Bishop Street, which offered courses in drawing, painting, and applied arts…”
– The Beaver Hall Group and Its Legacy, Evelyn Walters
S. T. Stewart, Superintendent, Dominion Express Company (1900)
The Dominion Express was founded in 1873 in Winnipeg. However, the company was associated with the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, whose creation failed in the same year. It wasn’t until 1882 that a railway was in operation and the Dominion Express was able to begin operations. The company specialized in the rapid delivery of small packages.
The Dominion Express opened eleven branches in Western Canada, spread over more than 700 kilometres of track and located between Rat Portage, Ontario, and Broadview, Saskatchewan. In 1883, it increased its range of operations by opening a line between Toronto and Winnipeg. To do so, it signed an agreement with the Vickers Express boats. A year later, the company moved its head office to Toronto. In 1898, it built stables on Latour Street in Montreal (now Place Bonaventure), and then occupied offices on St. James Street. It then built an office building on the same street. It occupied the ground floor along with the Canadian Pacific Railway ticket office. The rest of the building was rented to prestigious companies, including the Montreal Club. The building opened in 1912.
During the First World War, the Dominion Express took advantage of the boom in the circulation of money orders and foreign cheques. In 1915, it had a capital of 2 million dollars and a turnover of 5 million dollars. Its only competitor was Canadian Express, a subsidiary of the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada and an affiliate of American Express. The president of Dominion Express was William S. Stout. By 1937, the company had 8,828 agencies in 21 countries. It implemented the division of labour and established 67 classes of junior employees. It later became Canadian Pacific Express.
– Répertoire du patrimoine culturel du Québec
Westmount Senior Citizens’ Centre, performed daily check-up services for elderly persons living alone (Tele-Check) (1982)
Westmount Methodist Church, reverend J. W. Clipsham, pastor (1900)
Webster Hall (1950)
Arthur F. Cayford, manager and secretary-treasurer of the Montreal Forum (1949)
W. J. Kirby, Secretary, Dominion Burglary Guarantee Company Limited (1900)
Burglary Guarantee Insurance, 1903
“This branch of insurance, which is transacted to a considerable extent in Great Britain, was introduced into Canada eleven years ago. On June 14, 1893, a license was issued to the Dominion Burglary Guarantee Company (Limited), whose head office is at the city of Montreal, to transact the business of guaranteeing against loss or damage by reason of burglary or house-breaking and guaranteeing against loss of jewellery, bullion and other moveable property deposited with it for safekeeping. This company, which was incorporated by an Act of Parliament of Canada, assented to on April 1, 1893, is the only company licensed by this department to carry on the business of burglary guarantee insurance in Canada.”
– Abstract of Statements of Insurance Companies in Canada, for the year ended 31st December 1901
Thomas Hope Cox, Lithographer, Lion Press (1928)
Art Ahern, Safemaker (1900)
The Glen School (1900)
Patrick H. Ryan, Lumberman, Dohell, Beckett and Company, Exporters of timber and lumber (1928)
King’s School, constructed in 1896. In 1927 an extension was added containing a gymnasium. The School Commissioners for the Municipality of the City of Westmount sold the building in 1963.
Arthur Ross, Marine insurance agent (1921)
A Fenian Raid veteran serving with the Victoria Rifles. Founder of the Lachine Rowing Club.
Dr. W. H. Smith’s doctor’s office (1923)
Samuel William Wells, Superintendent, W. C. Macdonald Incorporated (1923)
Alexander P. McKinnon, President, A. P. McKinnon Company, pulp and paper manufacturers (1932)
“Born in Prince Edward Island, Mr. McKinnon was educated in the public schools and entered the employ of the International Paper Company at Fort Edward, N.Y. Later he became associated with the Union Bag & Paper Company in Montreal. His next move was to the St. Regis Pulp & Paper Company of which he ultimately became woods manager for Canada and the United States. This year he resigned from this position to found his own company.”
– Montreal Gazette, December 21, 1932
S. S. Boxer, Watson, Foster & Company (1900)
« La Foster and Watson, manufacture de papier peint, fut fondée en 1880 et s’installa à Maisonneuve en 1896. Pour l’encourager à s’y installer, la ville lui accorde une exemption de taxe de vingt ans ainsi qu’un bonus de 9 000 $. Elle sera l’avant-dernière à obtenir en même temps une exemption et un bonus. L’usine est érigée en 1897. Au début elle emploie 100 personnes. En 1906 elle en emploie 200 et en 1911, 250. En 1909, l’usine produit 60 000 rouleaux de papier tenture par jour. Le surintendant de l’usine, M. Robert Fraser, est échevin de la ville de 1908 à 1915. »
« Appelé maintenant « Place Ontario », l’édifice est actuellement occupé par le Village des valeurs, le Syndicat des métallos, le Centre administratif de l’Île de Montréal de Desjardins, la firme d’ingénieurs Kelvin Emtech et par des condos. »
– Découvrir les quartier défavorisés
4842 Western (demolished)
G. Robinson, S. Greenshields, Son & Company (1900)
“Greenshields had begun his apprenticeship in the family wholesale dry goods firm, S. Greenshields, Son and Company, in 1869. Initially known as Samuel Greenshields and Son, the business had been established by his grandfather Samuel, a merchant from Glasgow, and his father, John, in 1833. Edward Black became a partner in 1876, head of the firm in 1888, and president of Greenshields Limited in 1903. He presided over the expansion of the business across Canada. By 1907, the company was the country’s largest supplier of both imported and domestic dry goods. It handled cottons, woollens, carpets, household furnishings, dress goods, and notions such as gloves, hosiery and laces. In addition, it was the exclusive agent in Canada for several prestigious British and European manufacturers.”
– Dictionary of Canadian Biography
4848 Western (demolished)
Arno A. Bittues, Director, Gillette Razor Company of Canada (1925)
Responsible for establishing the company’s factories in Russia and Germany before the first world war.
Office building (1957)
Henry J. Kaiser Company (Canada) Ltd. (1958)
“In 1927, a $20-million Cuban road-building contract helped forge the expansion of Kaiser’s firm. Four years later, he joined with several other large contractors to build the Hoover, Bonneville, and Grand Coulee dams; he also expanded into sand and gravel and cement production. When the United States entered World War II, he decided to apply his company’s construction skills to shipbuilding. By 1945 the company had built 1,490 vessels, establishing new records for speed. During this period, Kaiser built the first integrated steel plant on the West Coast, a factory which supplied material for his wartime manufacturing.”
“One of Kaiser’s proudest achievements of this period was his medical care plan, begun for employees in 1942 and made public in 1945. This became the largest privately sponsored health plan in the world.”
Nursing Sister Mary Evelyn Engelke (1919)
R. S. Hodgine, Manager, Ontario Mutual Life Insurance Company (1900)
“The head office of the Mutual Life Assurance Company (now Sun Life Financial) was opened in 1912. Incorporated in December 1868 as the Ontario Mutual Life Assurance Company, the firm obtained a Dominion Charter in 1878. The company has operated under its present name since 1900.”
– Canada Life Insurance
William H. Whyte, Grand Secretary of the Masonic Order for the Province of Quebec (1917)
4930 Western (demolished)
Hugh Russell, Glen Cottage (1900)
4946 Western (demolished)
Edward Chaplin, Chaplin Brothers & Company, tool and dye manufactures (1900)
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 @hotmail.com or through his blog Westmount Overlooked