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The Main National Historic Site of Canada

Saint Laurent Street (de la Commune- Jean Talon), Montréal, Quebec, H2T, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1996/06/05

One block of this Historic District.; Parks Canada   Parcs Canada  1996 (Gordon Fulton)
Cultural buildings.
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Other Name(s)

Saint-Laurent Boulevard
Boulevard Saint-Laurent
The Main National Historic Site of Canada

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/10/28

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Main is a 6-kilometre long district along Boulevard Saint Laurent in Montreal from la rue de la Commune in the south to la rue Jean-Talon in the north where consecutive waves of immigrants settled, establishing businesses and homes. The district is characterized by a mixture of small factories, shops, theatres and restaurants established and developed over time by numbers of peoples from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

Heritage Value

The Main (Boulevard Saint Laurent) was designated because:
- the district is a special place in Canada speaking to the emergence and development of cultural communities representative of Canadian society as a whole;
- as the immigrants' corridor, the district's cosmopolitan character and the constant renewal brought about by the merging and mixing of cultures and aesthetics give it a very special sense of place;
- with its textile and clothing factories, its numerous small businesses and the world of the theatre and entertainment, it has evolved a way of life that has inspired novelists, poets, singers, and film-makers.

The heritage value of the district resides in its association with successive waves of immigrants and their efforts to establish lives in Canada. The district is characterized by a variety of functional building types, usually of a modest scale, and their successive redevelopment by numbers of peoples from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, imparting to the district a distinctly cosmopolitan flavour.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1996.

Character-Defining Elements

The elements that characterize the heritage value of the district include:
- the linear quality of the 6-kilometre stretch of street;
- the evolutionary nature of the streetscape with buildings dating from many time periods;
- the modest scale of most structures;
- a variety of functional building types including small factories, shops, restaurants,- theatres, as well as religious, institutional and community structures;
- the orientation of most buildings to the street;
- a preponderance of masonry structures;
- a strong presence in certain sectors of Montreal's "urban vernacular", 2 to 3 storey structures with grey Montréal stone facades and brick party walls;
- the variety and constant evolution of aesthetic expression.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Extraction and Production
Peopling the Land
Migration and Immigration

Function - Category and Type




Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Canadian Inventory of Historic Building Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 525, 25 Eddy Street, Hull, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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