MONTREAL — Pointe-a-Calliere is on a friendly neighborhood watch.
Pointe-a-Calliere, the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, presents “Lives and Times of the Plateau,” an exhibition that explores the origins of one of Montreal’s most iconic neighborhoods. The space offers maps, photos, a pertinent who’s who, vintage artifacts and a mesmerizing multimedia display.
First up, if you’re unfamiliar with the Plateau, PAC maps it all out for you. This mostly French-speaking residential neighborhood is generally bordered by Mount Royal to the west, Sherbrooke Street to the south, Iberville Street to the east, and the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks to the north.
The Plateau’s main thoroughfare, Mount Royal Avenue, dissects the neighborhood for a few miles offering Main Street-style shopping and specialty stores. Here you can visit the likes of cafes, bars, restaurants, used book stores and specialty food purveyors with shops dedicated to cheese, chocolate, pastries, tea and bread. The bustling street is a far cry from businesses of yesteryear, specifically tanneries and even a quarry once popular in the area. One of the more prominent companies to call the Plateau home today is video game producer Ubisoft. While the company is headquartered in France, their largest game developing studio is located on St. Laurent Boulevard.
And yes, it really is a plateau — just stand along Parc Lafontaine on Sherbrooke Street facing “south” and you’ll see the not-so-gentle sloping of side streets that make their way down to Montreal’s Gay Village.
The exhibition explores one of the first name references to the region, specifically the Mile End moniker given to the neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood located along and near St. Laurent Boulevard north of the Mount Royal Avenue intersection. In an 1815 bilingual advertisement in the Gazette, Stanley Bagg, the resident landlord of the Mile End Tavern, was on the hunt for a missing horse. As for the “Plateau” name designation, enter two possible legends.