March 2013

A place anchored in history

For immediate release

Montréal, March 6, 2013 – The Mariners’ House stands in the heart of Old Montréal, at the corner of Place d’Youville and Place Royale. After serving different functions over the years, it is Pointe-à-Callière’s fifth building and it has been refurbished to blend seamlessly with the historic district.

A building for sailors
In 1875 and for the next sixty or so years, the Montreal Sailors’ Institute stood at this address, catering to merchant sailors stopping in Montréal. In 1940, as the port had become busier over the years, the Institute found itself serving more and more sailors and becoming rather cramped. In the midst of the Second World War, its Board of Directors commissioned architect C.R. Titley to draw up plans for a new building better suited to the Institute’s growing needs. The old building was demolished in 1953 and the new one went up over the next two years. There is a commemorative plaque dated 1953 that was preserved during the refurbishment of the Mariners’ House, but the Montreal Sailors’ Institute was officially inaugurated in 1954 by the federal Minister of Transport, Lionel Chevrier, and Montréal Mayor Camillien Houde. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of sailors passed through the new building, where they had access to a number of services: lounges and games rooms, a chapel, a concert hall, left luggage, a post office, currency exchange, a barber shop and doctor’s office, not to mention a cafeteria and beds. In 1968, the Montreal Sailors’ Institute merged with the Catholic Sailors’ Club to create the Mariners’ House.

A new lease on life
The Œuvres de la Maison du Père acquired the building in 1987 and converted it into a men’s shelter, renaming it the Résidence du Vieux-Port. The residence was inaugurated by Montréal Cardinal Paul Grégoire in 1988 and used until 2004.

A new gathering place
In 2004, through the Pointe-à-Callière Foundation, the Museum purchased the building and used it for school groups. In 2011, the building was added to Pointe-à-Callière’s expansion plans, aimed at creating the Montréal Archaeology and History Complex. The building was refurbished by Dan S. Hanganu and Provencher Roy + Associés Architectes, the same consortium that designed the Éperon, the Museum’s main building, and the archaeological crypt located beneath Place Royale in 1992. It resumed its old name of the Mariners’ House in a nod to its history.