Beautification

Heritage

A unique urban landscape that sets us apart

Reputed for the lush green look of its streets and for its mature trees, Saint-Lambert has a distinctive urban landscape thanks to a longstanding tradition of beautification.

Beautification traditions in Saint-Lambert

Saint-Lambert still had a rural look when it was first incorporated as a municipality in 1857. Although only 21% of the labour force continued to work in agriculture in 1861, a large portion of Saint-Lambert’s land area was still devoted to farming.

Then, beginning in the 1870s, but mainly in 1880, after the introduction of commuter rail service, the municipality saw gradual changes in its population. These changes were largely visible in the transition under way in trades groups. The proportion of unskilled workers and farmers was declining, while that of white collar workers, skilled workers and business owners was increasing. Thus, at a time when the rural landscape was slowly being transformed and a village character was emerging, sensitivities about the importance of the quality of our living environment were also growing.

In keeping with these heightened sensitivities, the municipal council undertook to introduce general beautification measures between 1880 and 1890. Already known for its health-giving qualities, notably due to the presence of the nearby river, people would even refer to the restorative properties of Saint-Lambert’s air.

This desire to beautify the environment was reflected in various actions which, to some extent, have forged Saint-Lambert’s identity. For example, in 1882, municipal by-laws were passed to oblige property owners with homes alongside a municipal road to plant trees next to the sidewalks fronting their properties and to build stone, brick or wooden fences to demarcate their property and tangibly reflect the municipality’s urban character. These elements helped reinforce the developed and organized look of Saint-Lambert’s landscape.

Read more

The St. Lambert Horticultural Society joins the beautification movement

However, the municipality was not the only entity to propose and take beautification measures. In fact, civil society has also played an important role. The founding of the St. Lambert Horticultural Society in 1894 and its wide reach are a case in point. This organization in fact sent City Council a letter in 1896 recommending that the municipality adopt a by-law providing a framework and encouraging citizens to plant trees, particularly by introducing incentives for any citizen, property owner or tenant who did so. The Horticultural Society also suggested types of trees to plant, identifying noble species that would enhance the local landscape and promote plant diversity.

Lastly, in addition to the municipality and civil society, real estate developers also played a role in the quality and nature of the developments that characterize Saint-Lambert’s distinctive landscape today: wide, open streets sometimes featuring planted medians or lined with mature trees that provide a rich canopy in both private and public spaces, carefully thought-out developments in parks and public spaces, several trees of interest, and so on. One of the most noteworthy of these real estate developers was the Victoria Park Development Company. When the Victoria Park sector was built, it was referred to as a second Westmount, citing the pure air quality attributable to its proximity to the river.

The successive municipal administrations over the 20th century, combined with the involvement of the St. Lambert Horticultural Society, ensured that this tradition was maintained through a number of different developments and several rounds of planting.

Bibliography

  • Corbeil, Thérèse. Saint-Lambert : le développement hâtif d’une banlieue résidentielle (1852-1913), Master’s thesis in history, UQAM, December 2004.
  • Mouillepied Historical Society, under the direction of Chartrand Copti, Huguette, 2007. Saint-Lambert au fil des ans/Saint-Lambert through the Years. 1857-2007. Mouillepied Historical Society, Saint-Lambert.
  • Interview with Monette Saint-Jacques, December 6, 2016. Minutes of Saint-Lambert City Council meeting of April 3, 1882 and May 4, 1896.