Ancient History: South-Montreal Topography

Elliot in a ruelle before going down the slope from Sherbrooke St.

The Centre-Sud neighbourhood is located in a part of town where there is decline in elevation. This escarpment, or hill, streches from Montreal Ouest to the Hochelaga district and has an average height difference of 25 metres. For example in between Parc Lafontaine and Sainte-Catherine St., there is a height difference of 23 metres. One of the theories is that it’s the ancient beach of the Champlain Sea. This theory makes me imagine that I am somehow walking underwater when I walk up towards Sherbrooke St. At least if I lived millions of years ago…

What’s also interesting to note is that Old Montreal and the Centre-Sud neighbourhood was once a system of valleys where two rivers ran through. I find it strange that what was once rivers only 400 years ago are now seemingly lost due to urban development. I remember when we were looking for a home, I was warned about an old river that runs underground in NDG and that many of the real estate agents knew about it and some unfortunately would not admit to it. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Or think of Place D’Youvilles where a river was turned into a canal, later turned into an aqueduct and later condemned. It’s now a street right next to the Pointe-à-Callière Museum.

Source: Montréal En Évolution, Jean-Claude Marsan

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