Montreal’s oldest urban stable torn down, advocates promise to rebuild

Montreal’s oldest urban stable torn down, advocates promise to rebuild

The Griffintown Horse Palace is seen Wednesday, June 14, 2017 in Montreal. A living piece of Montreal history was relegated to the past on Thursday as the oldest urban stable in the city – some say in the country – was finally torn down. The stable at the Griffintown Horse Palace, which was built in 1862, was deemed too decrepit to save, according to a member of the foundation that rallied to save the site. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz.

MONTREAL — A living piece of Montreal history was relegated to the past on Thursday as the oldest urban stable in the city — some say in the country — was finally torn down.

The stable at the Griffintown Horse Palace, which was built in 1862, was deemed too decrepit to save, according to a member of the foundation that rallied to save the site.

But while it was heart-wrenching to see the 150-year-old structure come tumbling down, Juliette Patterson said there are plans to reconstruct the building she calls “the soul” of the rapidly gentrifying Griffintown neighbourhood just west of Old Montreal.

“Now we associate Griffintown with new condos and towers, but what it used to be was a very working-class area,” she said.

“(The stable) is one of the last vestiges of this neighbourhood and we thought it was important to keep it.”

The Horse Palace has long been a bit of a throwback, a small brick stable and paddock tucked in the shadow of nearby condo towers, surrounded by 100-year-old poplar trees.

Originally, Patterson said, it housed the horses that hauled the construction material used in the docks along the newly built Lachine Canal.

Later, its inhabitants pulled the snowplows that cleared city streets.

Until recent days, it was home to horses working in the tourist-driven caleche trade, and Patterson says it will return to that vocation again.

She says the horse palace foundation has secured enough funding to build a small brick stable, about the size of the original, which will house three to four horses.

Some of the original planks and metal pieces from the old stable will go into the new building on the site of the one that has just been demolished.

If more funding can be secured, Patterson hopes the stable will one day also be able to host farmers’ markets and offer equine activities for the public, continuing what she says is a trend toward urban agriculture.

“It really is a continuity between the past and the future, where more and more we’re seeing cities integrating biodiversity and nature into the city,” she said.

Dinu Bumbaru, policy director for Heritage Montreal, says that as far as he knows the Griffintown Horse Palace was the oldest continuously operating urban stable in North America.

He said he supports the effort to rebuild it in a way that honours its origins and will allow people to experience an authentic connection to the city’s history.

“A bronze plaque is not sufficient, and you can’t turn every piece of heritage into a web page,” he said.

“We could have a plaque or an exhibition that talks about the presence of horses, or you can have the horses. A horse palace is like a gateway to time.”

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
…………………………………………………………………

Subscription_Banner_820x300px

Categories: Arts & Culture, News

About Author

Write a Comment

Only registered users can comment.