Montréal, May 3, 2010 - Rising above Montréal’s birthplace, Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History, with the support of the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et la Condition féminine, the city of Montréal and the Pointe-à-Callière Foundation, will soon be making its expansion plans a reality. Work will begin on the Archaeology House and archaeological digs will get underway in Place D’Youville Ouest, to unearth the remains of St. Ann’s Market and the Parliament of the United Province of Canada.
But this is more than a simple expansion. This work is another step toward creating a world-class museological institution on a site with exceptional heritage value in North America. The project ties in perfectly with Pointe-à-Callière’s mission of preserving the past, sharing information and educating the public.
“We are delighted to see this support for our expansion. The new Archaeology House will help Pointe-à-Callière do more to welcome the 100,000 young people who visit us every year and increase their awareness. And the archaeological digs on the site of the Parliament of the United Province of Canada will finally showcase the exceptional historical wealth of this site, which adds to the national significance of Montréal’s birthplace,” emphasizes Francine Lelièvre, Executive Director of Pointe-à-Callière, the Montréal Museum of Archaeology and History.
The Archaeology House, a key centre for young people and archaeology in Quebec
The expansion includes the creation of the Archaeology House in the Mariners' House adjacent to the Museum, to be completed by 2012.
The Archaeology House is to be a key centre devoted to archaeology, to serve as a valuable space for meetings and joint initiatives and as a source of information on behalf of all partners in the archaeology field in Quebec. Its Espace Archéo-jeunes, a space for young archaeologists, will offer a unique facility for the some 100,000 young visitors to the Museum every year, suited to educational activities, family workshops and simulated archaeological digs.
The Archaeology House will also include an auditorium and spaces designed for presenting exhibitions and cultural activities. It will be accessible via an underground corridor leading from the Museum, on the same level as the archaeological crypt beneath Place Royale.
This building, located at 165-169 Place d’Youville and managed by Les Oeuvres de la Maison du Père as a men’s shelter for over 15 years, was purchased by the Pointe-à-Callière Foundation for $2 million in 2004. The Montreal Sailor’s Institute was founded on this site in 1875, to serve merchant sailors while they were in port in Montréal.
Exceptional remains beneath Place D’Youville Ouest
The Museum’s expansion will also mean conducting archaeological digs beneath the parking lot in Place D’Youville Ouest, between McGill and Saint-Pierre streets. There are exceptional treasures hidden underground there: the remains of St. Ann’s Market, built in 1832, and of the Parliament of the United Province of Canada, Montréal having been the capital of Canada from 1843 to 1849.
The first permanent Parliament of the United Province of Canada, a major part of our country’s history, was located in Montréal, in the St. Ann’s Market building. A number of key pieces of legislation were adopted here, including the act establishing “responsible government” in 1848. But in 1849, the Parliament was burned to the ground and Montréal lost its place as capital to Toronto, and later to Ottawa.
For Pointe-à-Callière, these digs are of great importance. They will unearth an important element in the city’s and province’s history, so that the finds can be showcased for the public to see. Last year, exploratory probes by the city of Montréal revealed that the collector sewer beneath the Parliament of the United Province of Canada, leading to the Museum from McGill Street, is still in good condition.
The cost of Pointe-à-Callière’s planned expansion is estimated at $22.2 million. It represents one more step toward the creation of a nine-part museum and tourism complex including such existing structures as the Éperon building, Place Royale, the Ancienne-Douane building and the Youville Pumping Station, now to be joined by the Archaeology House and the 375 metres of the canalized Little Saint-Pierre River and the William collector sewer, the remains of St. Ann’s Market and the Parliament of the United Province of Canada, as well as those of Fort Ville-Marie and Callière’s Residence, and lastly, the creation of a world-class exhibition space.
Pointe-à-Callière, the only major archaeology museum in Quebec and all of Canada, is a museum complex rising above a concentrated number of national historic and archaeological sites that illustrate the history of Montréal, Quebec and the rest of Canada. It opened in 1992, to mark the 350th anniversary of the founding of Montréal. Pointe-à-Callière’s mission is to bring visitors to know and appreciate the history of Quebec’s metropolis and to forge bonds with local communities and regional, national and international networks concerned with archaeology, history and urban issues.
The Museum is subsidized by the city of Montréal.