Meadowbrook Through the Centuries

Meadowbrook Through the Centuries – A Timeline

by Angela Rahaniotis

with Sally Cole and Larry Paul

The year 2019 marks 30 years that Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook has been on a mission to preserve and protect Meadowbrook, one of the few remaining large green spaces in the greater southwest region of Montreal. The 57-hectare site straddles Côte Saint-Luc and Lachine (formerly Ville Saint-Pierre) and borders on Montreal West. The last visible vestiges – 200 metres – of the historic St Pierre River run through the land. The current owner of Meadowbrook (since 2006) is real estate developer Groupe Pacific, who leases it out as a golf course.  Les Amis’ goal is not only to prevent any further development on the property, but to transform the space into an urban park, open and accessible to all, and in so doing, preserve this important legacy of the natural and cultural history of our city.

What was this precious area like? How was it used? Who were the indigenous peoples, visitors, settlers and property owners occupying the land through the ages? A study of historical maps and land registry documents makes for some interesting revelations in the evolution of Meadowbrook and the surrounding area. We present it here in the form of a timeline. (Note: We have added an outline on the maps to indicate the location of Meadowbrook. On the earlier maps, the location is an approximation.)

Pre-1535:  Archaeological evidence dates the earliest human presence on the Island of Montreal to 4,000-5,000 years ago. Migratory peoples hunted and fished along the shores of the St Pierre River for thousands of years, congregating at summer fish camps and dispersing in small units to winter hunting grounds.  By the 14th century, some groups began to practice horticulture and would settle for periods of 15-20 years in one location and then move on to clear and cultivate land in a new location not far away.  By the 16th century Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) farmers were growing corn, beans, squash and tobacco in the fertile soil of the St Pierre River plain.

1535Jacques Cartier arrives in Hochelaga. He describes a fortified Iroquois settlement of about 1,500 people, set back from the St Lawrence River and near cultivated fields that lay along the St Pierre River : «trouver les terres labourées, & belles grandes champaignes plaines de bledz de leur terre, qui est comme mil de bresil, aussy gros ou plus que poix, dequoy vivent ainsi comme nous faisons de fourment; & au parmy d’icelles champaignes est située la ville de Hochelaga, prés & joignant une montaigne qui est à l’entour d’icelle, labourée & fort fertile.» 

Fanciful map by Giacomo Gastaldi of Cartier’s arrival in Hochelaga reproduced from Giovanni Battista Ramusio’s “Delle navigationi et viaggi” (1556) (Library and Archives Canada, Ref. no. R11981-224-1-E) Meadowbrook area is circled in green.     

1611Samuel de Champlain lands in Hochelaga and finds the fields and meadows abandoned and no trace of a fortified settlement. He writes : – « et proches de ladite place Royalle y a une petite riviere [Saint Pierre] qui va assez avant dedans les terres, tout le long de laquelle y a plus de 60 arpens de terre desertés qui sont comme prairies, où l’on pourroit semer des grains, & y faire des jardinages. Autresfois des sauvages y ont labouré, mais ils les ont quitées pour les guerres ordinaires qu’ils y avoient. Il y a aussi grande quantité d’autres belles prairies pour nourrir tel nombre de bestail que l’on voudra: & de toutes les sortes de bois qu’avons en nos forests de pardeça: avec quantité de vignes, noyers, prunes, serizes, fraises, & autres sortes qui sont très-bonnes à manger, entre autres une qui est fort excellente, qui a le goût sucrain, tirans à celuy des plantaines (qui est un fruit des Indes) & est aussi blanche que neige, & la fueille ressemblant aux orties, & rampe le long des arbres & de la terre, comme le lierre. La pesche du poisson y est fort abondante, & de toutes les especes que nous avons en France, & de beaucoup d’autres que nous n’avons point, qui sont très-bons: comme aussi la chasse des oiseaux aussi de diferentes especes: & celle des Cerfs, Daims, Chevreuls, Caribous, Lapins, Loups-serviers, Ours, Castors, & autres petites bestes qui y sont en telle quantité, que durant que nous fusmes audit saut, nous n’en manquasmes aucunement. »

Champlain’s Map: A is Place Royale (today’s Pointe-à-Callière); D is St Pierre River; E is prairie; G is Lac St Pierre (“Oeuvres de Champlain,” by Abbé C.-H. Laverdière, 1870 2nd Edition, published under the patronage of Université Laval)

1640 – Pierre Chevrier de Fancamp and Jérôme Le Royer de la Dauversière, founders of La Société Notre-Dame de Montréal, are granted a seigneury in New France : … «une étendue de terre de deux lieues de large, le long du Saint-Laurent, à partir de l’embouchure de la rivière de l’Assomption sur six lieues de profondeur. »  (The name of the river, lake, côte and coteau is most likely named for Pierre Chevrier, the “saint” added to sanctify the name.)

1642 – Sponsored by La Société Notre-Dame de Montréal, Paul de Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve and Jeanne Mance arrive on the island and lay the foundations for Ville-Marie. Louis Prud’homme is among the first colonists.

1650 – Colonists Jean Descaris (or Déscarries, Decary, Décarie) dit le Houx, and Jean Leduc receive grants of land extending from what is now Atwater Avenue to Lachine. The lands stretching to the south and west of Mount Royal are forested and marshy, crisscrossed by numerous streams and brooks that feed into the St Pierre River and Lac St Pierre. The colonists clear the forests and establish farms on the well-irrigated and fertile prairie lands along the shores of the river.

1653 More colonists, including Marin Hurtubise and Honoré Danis/Dany, arrive to take up land grants in the area.

1663 – La Société de Notre-Dame de Montréal is dissolved and the administration of l’Île de Montréal is handed over to the Sieurs du Séminaire de Saint-Sulpice. The Sulpicians subdivide the island into côtes or quartiers, a system of concessions made up of land lots measuring on average 40-60 arpents (about 34-51 acres), establishing the basis of the cadastral system for the island.

1675 – Jean Descaris acquires 80 arpents of land near Lac St Pierre.

1679  The Sulpicians grant Jean Descaris another concession of 80 arpents of land “au bout et joignant la concession qu’il possède déjà au lac Saint-Pierre”. On the death of Jean Descaris in 1687, this land goes to his eldest son, Paul.

1687 – A land grant is made to Pierre Hurtubise (son of Marin Hurtubise) in what is present-day Côte Saint-Luc. The land is forest and prairie offering both fertile soil and good hunting grounds.

1693 – First record of pioneer Jean Monet (Monette) in the area

1701 – “La Grande paix de Montréal” treaty is signed by Louis-Hector de Callière, the governor of New France, and 39 First Nations, putting an end to the hostilities between the Iroquois (allies of the Dutch/English) and the Hurons/Algonquins (allies of the French). The farmer colonists, or habitants, previously often caught in the crossfire of the fur trade conflict and frequently called upon to serve in the militia, can now enjoy a more peaceful existence and go about cultivating the land, raising livestock (pigs, poultry, sheep) and establishing roots.

1702 – Property owners on the island of Montréal.

Copy of map by the Sulpician Vachon de Belmont, Archives de Montréal, VM66-S1P025

Detail of 1702 map, showing property owners Descarris, Leduc, Dany, Hurtubise, Parent and Legault (dit DesLauriers) among others in the Côte St Pierre area. Land north of the dotted line is non-conceded prairie land and forested land good for hunting.

(Archives de Montréal, VM66-S1P025

1731 – This is a contemporary illustrated reconstruction of land registry archival information found in the Livre terrier de l’île de Montréal, compiled by historians at Université Laval and presented here in map form. The lots are numbered for identification purposes only and are not actual cadastral numbers. Their location is approximate.

Land owners of note in the area are: Descaries (5533, 6124, 6125); Danis (5185, 5188, 5191, 6120); Prud’homme (6113, 6121); Monet (5184) and Leduc (5178).

Detail of map : Carte « “L’archipel de Montréal au XVIIIe siècle”. © Pointe-à-Callière, cité d’archéologie et d’histoire de Montréal / Université Laval (Note: Lac à la Loutre=Lac St Pierre)

1700 (circa) – Page from Livre terrier de l’île de Montréal showing land transactions for the Décarie family.

Source : Prêtres de Saint-Sulpice de Montréal

1776 First record of a Pierre Lemieux in the parish of Notre-Dame

1817First record of a Joseph L’Archevêque, dit Larche in the parish of Lachine

1818 209 people living in present-day Côte Saint-Luc and 177 people living in Coteau Saint-Pierre

1834 Map showing parishes, public roads, (eg. Côte-St-Luc), the St Pierre River, farmlands and the many orchards in the area.

Detail of map by André Jobin, BAnQ,

1855Grand Trunk Railway tracks are laid at the south edge of present-day Montreal West

1872  Opening of Blue Bonnets race course on Jos. Decary farm in present-day Montreal West

1873 –  Thomas Trenholme (founder of Elmhurst Dairy) arrives in Montreal and starts dairy farming in the area

1879 – Map of area showing property owners.  Note lots 116, 117, 118 and lots 121 ,122, 130, 131: site of present-day Meadowbrook (outlined in green). The Blue Bonnets race course is a bit higher up and to the right.

Detail of map by H.W. Hopkins, BAnQ,

1881-1886 – The federal government grants Canadian Pacific Railway $25M and 25M acres of land to build a railway across Canada.

1886 CPR tracks are laid in the area, enclaving present-day Meadowbrook on three sides, and bisecting Blue Bonnets race course (in 1907 the racetrack reopens on Décarie)

1890Map of area showing CPR tracks and Ontario and Quebec Railway tracks; O&QR is a subsidiary of CPR.

Detail of map by H. Malingre, McGill University Library, Ref. no. MARCXM

1893The parish of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, which once stretched from Atwater Avenue to Lachine, is subdivided. One part becomes the Village of Saint-Pierre-aux-Liens.

1897  Montreal West is incorporated as a town. The area covers 400 acres, with 50 houses and a population of 350.

Meadowbrook: A Rural Past

Archives de Montréal,


For more than two centuries the farms and orchards in the Meadowbrook area provided fresh produce for the growing population of Montreal.  Apples, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages, onions and the famous muskmelons grew abundantly in the fertile soil on the western side of Mount Royal. The farmers also benefited from easy access to fertilizer (horse manure) as their fields were near the Blue Bonnets race tracks. Day trips to the farms for apple-picking picnics and evening bonfires were a favourite fall activity for city-dwellers.

The NDG melon was prized far and wide. Often weighing as much as 20 lbs, a serving of this culinary delicacy could cost as much as one dollar (about $25 today) in the finest restaurants in Boston and New York. Even King Edward VII of England was known to favor it.




1900 (circa) Urban development eventually leads to the demise of many of the farms. At the turn of the century, many farm owners (such as the Décaries) begin selling off more and more parcels of their lands.

1903 Côte Saint-Luc is incorporated as a village.  Luc Prud’homme is the first mayor, followed by Pierre Lemieux in 1905 and François-Xavier Décarie in 1909. All are descendants of early colonists.

1907Map of area showing towns and lot numbers.

Detail of map by A.R.Pinsoneault – Plate 52, BAnQ, )

 1908 Village of Saint-Pierre-aux-Liens is incorporated as a city to be known as Ville Saint-Pierre; boundaries remain unchanged.


Source: Registre foncier du Québec, from an original cadastral plan drawn up in 1872, with amendments added.

1872-1919 L’Index des immeubles in the Registre foncier shows sales or transfers to CPR during this time period.  Part of lot 4723, created in 1919, includes lots 130, 131 and a small section of lots 121,122, all situated in Ville Saint-Pierre; and lots 116, 117, 118 situated in Côte Saint-Luc. These lots represent present-day Meadowbrook.


Lot Property Owners Prior to CPR
116 Hurtubise, Leduc, Lemieux, Monette, Décarie
117 Leduc, Lemieux, Monette
118 Leduc, Lemieux
121 Trenholme
122 Larche
130 Parent, Monette
131 Décarie

Source: Index des  immeubles (Registre foncier du Québec)

(Note :  The Registre foncier du Québec was established in 1841 and lIndex des immeubles was instituted in 1860. This table reflects land registry transactions compiled after 1872.)

1919 (circa) – Many troops return home from the “Great War” to jobs provided by CPR. The company hires more than 20,000 ex-service people. It is probably around this time that CPR repurposes some of its land holdings in the area as a recreational club for its employees.

1930’s – CPR employees transform the land into a golf course.

1948The land becomes a public golf course, the Wentworth Golf Club.

Detail of map: “Street Map of/ Carte des rues de Montréal” by Service B-A Products, Archives de Montréal, Ref. no. CA M001 VM066-6-P06

1970 – The golf club is renamed Meadowbrook Golf Club. The new operator leases the land from CPR-Marathon Realty.

1980-90’s – CPR-Marathon Realty seeks to develop housing on the land.

1989 Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook is formed.

1999 – Ville Saint-Pierre merges with Lachine.

2000   The City of Côte Saint-Luc rezones the 31 hectares of Meadowbrook in its municipality from residential to recreational.

2006 – Groupe Pacific purchases the land for $3M from Fairmount Hotels & Resorts, a division of CPR.

2015 – The Montréal Urban Agglomeration Land Use and Development Plan designates all of Meadowbrook, both the Lachine side and the Côte Saint-Luc side, as a large green space or recreation area.

Aerial view of Meadowbrook

Courtesy of Bryan Wolofsky