Le Sud-Ouest: Saint-Henri


Saint-Henri is a neighbourhood in southwestern Montreal, Quebec, Canada located  in the borough of Le Sud-Ouest. Saint-Henri is usually considered to be bounded to the east by Atwater Avenue, to the west by Autoroute 15, to the north by Autoroute 720, and to the south by the Lachine Canal

Saint-Henri, is historically known as a  French-Canadian and Irish working class neighbourhood and often contrasted with wealthy Westmount  area which looks down at it over the St. Jacques Escarpment (Falaise Saint-Jacques)*, The municipality was incorporated into the City of Montreal in 1905. The borough hall for Le Sud-Ouest is located in Saint-Henri, in a converted factory, bearing witness to the borough’s industrial heritage. In recent years it has been strongly affected by gentrification.

The area, was at one time known as Les Tanneries because of the many artisan shops where leather tanning took place. The area is named after St. Henry via the Église Saint-Henri, which at one time formed part of the Place Saint-Henri  and also included the community’s fire and police station. Many of the district’s notable Art Deco buildings, including Atwater Market and the No. 23 Fire Hall, were designed by Ludger Lemieux.

Caserne de pompier no. 23, place Saint-Henri, Montréal

The district’s working-class character was most memorably recorded by Gabrielle Roy in her novel The Tin Flute (Bonheur d’occasion). Strongman Louis Cyr  lived and served as a police officer in Saint-Henri. Celebrated jazz pianist Oscar Peterson grew up in Little Burgundy which is the neighborhood adjacent to Saint-Henri. Stand-up comedian Yvon Deschamps has treated the daily struggle of Saint-Henri’s citizens with humorous melancholy.Also the early days of the bustle of the passenger rail station in St. Henri was immortalized in the song “Place St. Henri.”

Saint-Henri has been the subject of two National Film Board of Canada (NFB) documentaries, each capturing one day in the life of the district. In 1962, Hubert Aquin directed À St-Henri le cinq septembre (September Five at Saint-Henri). In 2010, director Shannon Walsh and producer Sarah Spring oversaw a crew of sixteen videographers as they followed area residents during the course of one summer’s day to make À St-Henri le 26 août, an NFB/Parabola Films co-production inspired by Aquin’s cinéma-vérité classic.[6] 

* The Saint-Jacques Escarpment (French: Falaise Saint-Jacques) is a green space along an escarpment in the city of Montreal, west of downtown Montreal and adjacent to the neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grace. The wooded area stretches 3 km (2 mi) long, covering over 20 ha (49 acres).[1] The escarpment’s dense stands of poplar trees and its location between Mount Royal and the Lachine Rapids make it notable for a number of species of resident and migratory birds, and a large population of brown snakes.[1] The escarpment had served as a dumping ground before it was purchased by the City of Montreal for use as parkland, but it is not open to the public. Plans to allow public access have been delayed because parts of the slope are unstable and dangerous, and the city’s desire to preserve the escarpment as a natural space conflicts with the Province of Quebec’s plans for redevelopment of the Turcot Interchange which include moving the Ville-Marie Expressway and Canadian National Railway line next to the foot of the escarpment.[2]

Original Material for article (wikipedia). Modified by John Naccarato.