Description of Historic Place
Westmount District National Historic Site of Canada is situated on the southwest slope of Mount Royal, mostly northwest of Sherbrooke Street, and forms part of the City of Westmount. The site is representative of a prosperous Victorian and post-Victorian suburb in Canada, and is defined by its architectural and landscape heritage reminiscent of the period between 1890 and 1930. A local architectural and planning board regulated development beginning in 1914. Defined by its high-quality residential buildings, notable public buildings, schools, and places of worship, the district also features grid-like streets and its network of landscaped public and private green spaces. Official recognition refers to space within the City of Westmount which covers 2.5 square kilometres of varied topography.
Westmount District was designated a national historic site of Canada because:
- it is an exemplary model of suburbs dating from the Victorian and post-Victorian era in Canada because of its diversity and the integrity of its components: residences (detached, semidetached and row houses), apartments, public buildings (city hall, library, and hall) and institutions (schools and places of worship), as well as landscape features such as parks, staircases and public spaces;
- its rich built heritage is representative of the main Canadian architectural style trends between 1890 and 1930. It served to influence architects elsewhere in Canada, and has since been supplemented by more recent infill that is both sensitive to and respectful of this heritage; and,
- it demonstrates an early and ongoing commitment from the municipality to protect and conserve through restrictive zoning and other planning mechanisms the built and landscape resources that contribute to the harmonious composition of the district.
The heritage value of Westmount District lies in its ties to the development of the social and intellectual life of Montreal’s middle-class English community in the early 20th century. Examples include the regulated construction of residential and public buildings designed and built in a wide variety of architectural styles by prominent Montreal architects and builders; and landscape features, such as parks and gardens, the Belvedere and the stairs going up the mountain. The district’s visual coherence was retained through the establishment of a local architectural and planning board which regulated development in the area beginning in 1914. Overall, Westmount displays a balanced setting for urban living with large green spaces and aesthetically pleasing public buildings conducive to the harmonious development of a sound community life.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, July 2009
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- its location southwest of Mount Royal at the heart of Montreal Island, Quebec;
- its clearly defined boundaries (2.5 square kilometres) within a ring more or less circular in shape from the most south-easterly point at Dawson College;
- all major elements of the existing urban layout, including residential street patterns juxtaposed against two diagonal main roads, network of parks and gardens, and other green spaces;
- its characteristics of the City-Beautiful and Garden-City movements, including cohesive organization of plans and distinctions between residential streets and main arterials;
- the uniformity of general building design accented by distinctively-shaped buildings;
- the wide selection of buildings designed and built by noteworthy Montreal architects and builders;
- the wide variety of Victorian and post-Victorian architectural styles, including neo-gothic, picturesque, Italian, Second-Empire, neo-Queen Anne, neo-Roman, Beaux-Arts, Chateau, neo-Tudor, Arts and Crafts, neo-Quebec, and the French regime style;
- the high quality of exterior finish materials, including wood, stone, and bricks, with decorative wood elements on porches and balconies or rich sculpted stone details such as columns, newel posts, cornices, sculptures, and casings;
- its historical coherence and pleasing viewscapes.