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Date:10/2/2014 2:58:45 AM
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OLD MONTREAL – DAY 1 - part 2
It had become a typical French colony, in which the initial dream to combine the settlers and Native Americans had vanished. The arrival in 1657 of Marguerite Bourgeoys (who founded the Congregation Notre-Dame), and the arrival of the Jesuits and Recollets in 1692, helped to ensure the Catholic character of the settlement. The original fortifications of Montreal, erected in 1717 by Gaspard Chaussegros de Léry, formed the boundaries of Montreal at the time. The fortifications were constructed to secure the settlement from a British invasion and to allow future expansion inside the walls. Though the walls may have provided security from invasion, they led to a different problem; a large concentration of wooden houses (with fireplaces) was the cause of many devastating fires. In 1721, Montreal received a royal order from France to ban wood construction; buildings were to be constructed using stone, but the ban was never fully respected. Canada (New France) became a British colony in 1763 after the French and Indian War. British rule would radically change the face of Old Montreal. Until the late 18th century the impact was not visible, as construction methods inherited from the French regime continued. However, distrust of the British authorities of the Catholic clergy caused the departure of several from Old Montreal. Another factor changed the appearance of Old Montreal: fires. Wood construction and an increased population density due to the construction of fortifications caused many fires, and conflagrations have reconfigured Old Montreal. The fires of 1765 and 1768 destroyed nearly half the buildings in the old city. In May 1765, fire destroyed about 110 houses before destroying the old Hôtel de Callière and the former General Hospital. In April 1768, 88 houses between rue Saint-Jean-Baptiste and Hotel Vaudreuil were burned, including the Congregation Notre-Dame convent. In following years, the city was to be rebuilt even more densely. On 6 June 1803 a massive fire destroyed the prison, the church and the dependencies of Jesuits, a dozen houses and the Château Vaudreuil. Two speculators bought the Château's gardens, offered one-third to the city, and divided the rest into seven lots of their own. The city's oldest monument, Nelson's Column, was erected in 1809 on the land given to the city. This space became the new market square, called Marché Neuf (New Market) before assuming its present name of Place Jacques-Cartier in 1845. The space occupied by the church of the Jesuits became the Place Vauquelin, and Montreal City Hall arose from the old Jesuit gardens in 1873. In 1812 a fire destroyed the Mansion House, a luxurious hotel popular with the Beaver Club and which had housed the first public library in Montreal (with over 7,000 volumes). It was replaced by the British-American Hotel, with the city's first permanent theatre (the Royal Theatre built by John Molson, which was visited by Charles Dickens).
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