Target 2017: Museum Expansion

Target 2017: Montreal Archaeology and History Museum Complex

Pointe-à-Callière is getting ready for the celebrations marking the 375th anniversary of the City of Montréal, as well as for events highlighting its own 25th anniversary in 2017, which include the creation of the Montréal Archaeology and History Complex.

Much more than just an expansion of the Museum, Pointe-à-Callière’s project involves the creation of a world-class museum institution on a site of exceptional heritage value in North America. Not only will it allow for heritage preservation, it will also reinforce the historic value of Old Montréal. Pointe-à-Callière’s project consists of linking a dozen historic and heritage sites through an underground network. The Complex will include the Museum’s five current buildings.

  • the Éperon
  • the first marketplace and Place Royale
  • the Ancienne-Douane
  • the Mariners’ House
  • the Youville Pumping Station

Added to these elements will be heritage sites and museum components, with the William collector sewer—located beneath Place D’Youville, between Pointe-à-Callière and McGill Street—acting as the main artery between the points of interest. The overall project involves the following: showcasing the remains of St. Ann's Market and the Parliament of the United Province of Canada, Fort Ville-Marie, and Callière's Residence; opening the William collector sewer along a distance of 375 metres; converting the Central Fire Station into a visitor service centre; showcasing the original Hôpital général de Montréal; and creating a world-class exhibition room beneath Normand Street, adjacent to the Dominique-Ducharme (Customs Canada) building. On the surface, all will be brought together with landscaped urban gardens, which will become a true oasis of greenery at the heart of the historic quarter.

For 2017: a heritage legacy for the City of Montréal

The Complex project took another step forward in the fall of 2014 with the financial support of the City of Montréal for the showcasing of the remains of Fort Ville-Marie and Callière’s Residence. This is one of the few sites where the soil has gone undisturbed since the 17th century, and is also where the Museum, through a partnership with the Université de Montréal, has created an Archaeological Field School in Old Montréal (right alongside Pointe-à-Callière’s main building). Here, at the city’s birthplace, is where the remains of Fort Ville-Marie and Callière’s Residence were discovered.

The showcasing and opening of this historic site will be a heritage legacy for the City of Montréal’s 375th anniversary. The Museum will be making it possible to access the exact location of Montréal’s birth with the construction of an all-new building at 214 Place D’Youville in Old Montréal. Fort Ville-Marie is a site that is closely linked to our collective identity, as it was the first French settlement established in 1642, and also served as an administrative centre for the new Montréal colony founded by Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance. Louis-Hector de Callière later occupied the site, where he built his home around 1695.

By 2017, the Museum will also have the opportunity to showcase the William collector sewer—the first of its kind to be built in Montréal—which will serve as an underground link between the new building and the Museum’s main building. Built between 1832 and 1838, this true masterpiece of civil engineering, unlike any other in North America, will become the backbone of the Complex. The Archaeology and History Complex project is being supported by a large number of organizations, and was also deemed to be a priority for 2017 by Tourisme Montréal, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, and the Society for the Celebration of Montréal’s 375th Anniversary.

Complex Facts and Figures

  • 4 urban gardens
  • 6 permanent exhibitions
  • 3 temporary exhibition rooms
  • 5 educational spaces
  • 375 metres of canalized river
  • 7,000 square metres of archaeological sites
  • a 10,000-square metre underground network
  • 28,000 square metres of indoor public space

2015 Construction Info
Pointe-à-Callière is continuing construction this spring to complete the building that will serve to showcase Fort Ville-Marie. The first step involves digging out the William collector sewer, beginning on March 16, 2015—a process that will take about two months. The work will be carried out from Monday to Friday, in the daytime, mainly on de Callière Street, along the length of Pointe-à-Callière’s main building, and on part of Place D’Youville. Trucks will then make their way towards Place D’Youville West (near McGill) where the sand will be deposited before being taken elsewhere. The Museum is aware that certain aspects of the work may be inconvenient to some individuals, but every effort is being made to ensure that this stage of the work takes place under the best possible conditions in order to minimize its impact on neighbours, merchants, and visitors to Old Montréal.

More information:

Pointe-à-Callière Today

1 - Éperon Building

Visitor Welcome Centre

Pointe-à-Callière’s main building, the Éperon, rises above the remains of the prestigious 19th century Royal Insurance Company building. Its foundations stand atop even earlier remains: those of Montréal’s first Catholic cemetery, dating from 1643, and of the Berthelet warehouse and store, which was situated on the banks of the Little St. Pierre River. The Museum’s ticket counter is located here, the starting point for a tour of the permanent exhibition Where Montréal was Born. This is also where the Yours Truly, Montréal multimedia show is screened. The building, located at 350 Place Royale in Old Montréal, was inaugurated on May 17, 1992.

2 -Montréal’s Past

Archaeological crypt / Cultural activities and workshops

Since the Museum opened, Place Royale has played host to outdoor cultural activities, while beneath the surface, in the archaeological crypt, Montréal’s past is brought back to life through impressive archaeological remains illustrating six centuries of history, from the Amerindian period (1350) to the present day. This was also the site of Montréal’s first marketplace in 1676. Activities have been held here since 1992.

3 - Ancienne-Douane Building

Discovery-Exhibition, Education and Families

This magnificent historic building, designed in 1837 by British architect John Ostell, today houses the permanent Pirates or Privateers? exhibition for families and school groups. The basement features the Saputo lunchroom, designed to look like an inn during the days of New France; there are also spaces for school groups and children’s parties on the second floor. The building has hosted exhibitions open to the public since 1992.

4 - Mariners’ House

Temporary exhibitions and Archaeo-Adventure workshop

Consisting of multi-purpose rooms equipped with cutting-edge technology, this four-level building can host major temporary exhibitions and cultural events. It is also home to the Museum Shop and the Archaeo-Adventure Workshop, a simulated dig space for children and families. Many of the rooms, including the spectacular Montréal 360° Space on the building’s roof, are also available for private events. The building was constructed in 1953 and was officially inaugurated in 2013, after having undergone a complete renovation.

5 - Youville Pumping Station

Industrial heritage

The Youville Pumping Station is Montréal’s first electrically powered wastewater pumping station, dating back to 1915. Today, the building showcases the city’s industrial heritage for school or private groups, and plays host to private events. The Museum’s centre housing documentation on Montréal is also located in the Station. This building was opened to the public in 1998. Major Partner: Hydro-Québec.

A network for tomorrow

6 - Access to the Heart of the Complex

Main Building – The Complex Esplanade

Located on Place D’Youville West at the corner of McGill Street, a new, transparent and light-filled reception centre will welcome over a half-million visitors per year. Paying tribute to the Parliament of the United Province of Canada—which once stood on the site, and whose remains will be accessible in the basement—, this building will be a true gateway to the past, with a window on the present and the future.

7 - Fort Ville-Marie / Callière's Residence

Montréal’s Birthplace

It was on this site that Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance founded Ville-Marie in 1642. In 1688, Louis-Hector de Callière acquired the land, building his residence here in 1695. Today, this site in Old Montréal holds exceptional remains that help us better understand the city’s earliest days. The Museum will be making this site accessible to the public with the construction of a building at 214 Place D’Youville, whose inauguration is scheduled to take place on May 17, 2017, on the city’s 375th anniversary.

8 - St.Ann's Market / Parliament of the United Canada

The city’s history as seen through its remains

Closely associated with an important chapter in the history of Canada, the first permanent Parliament of the United Province of Canada was established in 1844 in St. Ann’s Market, built in 1832. A number of important pieces of legislation were adopted here, including the 1848 act establishing “responsible government.” On April 25, 1849, the building was consumed by fire, destroying two parliamentary libraries within it. The Museum intends to showcase these important remains of our past, which today still exist beneath Place D’Youville West in Old Montréal.

9 - Canada Customs House, Dominique Ducharme Building

International exhibitions

A space for international exhibitions, the International Building, will be constructed beneath Normand Street, adjacent to the Dominique-Ducharme (Customs Canada) Building, which is located on Place D’Youville West: the room will be over 1,000 m2 in size, doubled by support spaces meeting museum standards. These spaces will be linked to the Museum’s underground network.

10 - Canalized River William collector sewer

Underground network for the complex

The Little St. Pierre River, which was converted into a collector sewer in 1832, will become the backbone of the Montréal Archaeology and History Complex: an underground network linking a unique collection of authentic archaeological and historic sites. The William collector sewer, open to the public along a distance of 375 metres, will be a magical place in itself, offering a dramatic and fascinating journey into the belly of the historic city. A portion of the William collector sewer will be accessible by 2017.

11 - Central Fire Station

This fire station operated from 1904 to 1972. Since 1983, the Queen Ann-style building has housed the Centre d’histoire de Montréal. A feasibility study is being conducted.

12 - Original hôpital général de Montréal / Maison de Mère d'Youville

Built in 1693, the original Hôpital général de Montréal is the second oldest building in Old Montréal. Taken over by the Grey Nuns in 1747, the building was gradually expanded, continuing its vocation until the 19th century. It is a heritage gem that few people know about. The building, located on Saint-Pierre Street, neighbouring Place D’Youville, will continue to house the religious community’s archives, along with an exhibition on the community.