VIEW-566.1 | At St. Helen's Island, Montreal, QC, about 1875

At St. Helen's Island, Montreal, QC, about 1875
William Notman (1826-1891)
about 1875, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
10 x 8 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Cityscape (3948) , Figure (1339) , Figure (1339) , Landscape (2230) , Photograph (77678) , rural (407)
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Keys to History

The lack of green spaces and the overall unhealthy conditions in the city raised other public health concerns. This was one area in which the municipality played a much larger part than usual. Inspired by New York City's Central Park, Montreal city council secured a government loan and began purchasing land on Mount Royal. This "rural" park, designed by the same architect, was opened in 1876, but its inaccessibility made it more of an enclave for the English-speaking elite until well into the 20th century. The city opened two other parks designed for the working-class-Saint Helen's Island in 1874 and Lafontaine Park in the 1880s. Both were on land leased from the federal government (Vancouver used the same method for Stanley Park in 1884). However, this did little to solve the problem of lack of parks in the inner city. The Parks and Playgrounds Association was formed in 1902 to promote supervised playgrounds for children as a way to improve their health and to reduce delinquency. This private association ran several recreational summer programmes and lobbied the city to build neighbourhood parks.

  • What

    The original Saint Helen's Park as seen here was created on the southern tip of Saint. Helen's Island. The city purchased the rest of the island in 1907. The park was accessible by ferry service.

  • Where

    Saint Helen's Island lies in the Saint Lawrence River south of Montreal.

  • When

    The city opened Saint Helen's Park in 1874. Amusements were added shortly thereafter, so visitors could do more than simply enjoy nature.

  • Who

    The city was a major player in the provision of park space. By 1912, sixty small neighbourhood parks had been created and the city was spending $10,000 a year on playgrounds.