A Rich Architectural Heritage

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is the second oldest community on the West Island of Montreal, the parish was founded in 1703. As a result, the built heritage of the village is very rich.

As early as the 17th century, Sainte-Anne church was the last stop on the island of Montreal for all travelers heading to the "Pays d'en Haut" (i.e. the Great Lakes). Simon Fraser (1776-1862), a major fur trader, owned a house there, built around 1800.

In the 19th century, the shores of Sainte-Anne become popular with Montreal's English-speaking bourgeoisie, making it a holiday resort. Several stately country houses are built on the shores of Lake St. Louis at that time, some of which are still in place today.

In 1918, the Garden City Press, an important business for the urban and economic history of Sainte-Anne established itself there. It is a textbook and educational material printer for workers created by J.J. Harpell. This businessman is influenced by the theories of Ebenezer Howard who advocates the organization of garden cities to eliminate the insalubrity in cities. With this in mind, Harpell aims to help his employees acquire property and he pays special attention to land development around his printing house.

Streets, parks and urban infrastructure are developed and 25 houses are built for workers near the printing house. During the Great Depression, Harpell hires unemployed people to plant trees and asks Frederick Todd to create a luxurious Japanese garden with a pond in front of Garden City Press, of which unfortunately nothing remains today. In 1945, Harpell transfers control of his company to a worker cooperative.


French Period Architecture (1600-1820)

The Simon Fraser House was built between 1790 and 1810 for Peter Grant (ca. 1764-1848), a partner of the North West Company. The Irish poet Thomas Moore (1779-1852) would have stayed there in 1804 and composed his famous text "The Canadian Boat Song". Following the fire of the manor of the Seigneurie de Bellevue in 1820, Simon Fraser (1760-1839), owner of the fief and also a partner of the North West Company, acquired the house to be his mansion. His descendants remain owners until 1965, when it was sold to the Canadian Heritage Foundation of Quebec.

Between 1850 and 1890, the house is modified including the addition of a Neo-Gothic porch on the front and a drum on one of the gabled walls. It underwent further modifications in 1892-1893, while it was subdivided into two dwellings. Subsequently, dormers are fitted with low-arched pediments, while firewalls supported by stone brackets are shaved when the roof is modified. From 1906 to 1954, the property is home to a branch of the Bank of Montreal. Thanks to the support of the Bout-de-l'Isle Historical Society and the Canadian Heritage Foundation of Quebec, the Simon Fraser House was restored in 1962, in keeping with the evolution of the building. This work is carried out under the direction of the architect Percy Roy Wilson (1900-2001), one of the precursors of modern architectural restoration in the Montreal area. The Simon Fraser House was listed in 1962. 

Maison Simon Fraser (circa 1900)
  Maison Simon Fraser (1945) 


Information Leaflets on Architectural Styles