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Ps: This site is monitored but not actively posting on a regular basis. Mostly these are stories & some photos saved from a defunct site known as Verdun Connections which was on MSN Groups initially then on a social network called Multiply.
Fear not, downtown office workers: you'll have a nice place to munch on your sandwiches this summer.
Dorchester Square has been inaccessible since a major $23-million refurbishment started last year. After a winter break, the work is set to begin in the coming days, city spokesperson Renée Pageau tells Metropolitan News.
A popular lunchtime spot, the square will reopen to the public around the end of June, Pageau said. No more "threadbare lawns, rutted walkways and clunky picnic tables," as Gazette colleague Jeff Heinrich wrote in a feature about the project last year. The new square will feature new trees, new lighting, new granite walkways, new benches and more flowerbeds.
A key location in Montreal's history, Dominion Square is bordered by Peel Street to the west, between De La Gauchetière and St. Catherine streets, although it is no longer known by that name. The southern section, below René Lévesque Boulevard, was renamed Place du Canada in 1966, while the northern section has been called Dorchester Square since 1987. These name changes are fairly recent when compared with the square's history, which goes back to the late 18th century.
In 1795, for public health reasons, municipal officials decided to prohibit burials within the city's fortifications. Shortly thereafter, the Notre Dame de Montréal parish council opened a new cemetery in the St. Antoine district, on the site of what would later become Dominion Square. Montreal was just entering a period of rapid urban expansion, and it wasn't long before the new cemetery was once again engulfed by the city. In 1855, the parish council therefore closed the St. Antoine cemetery and opened Notre Dame des Neiges cemetery on Mount Royal. Plans to use the land of the former Catholic cemetery for real estate development were halted by the Sanitary Association of Montreal, which feared that excavation might trigger a renewed outbreak of cholera: the victims of the 1832 epidemic had been buried in the cemetery. It was therefore decided that there would be no excavation and that the site would be turned into a public space, which was done in 1880.
While monuments commemorating Montreal's links with the British Empire are scattered around the square, French-Canadian influence was ensured when Bishop Bourget had Mary, Queen of the World, Cathedral, a small-scale replica of St. Peter's in Rome, built in the square's southeast corner. Toward the end of the 19th century, Montreal's business district migrated to this new area north of the old city. The celebrated Windsor Hotel, which opened in 1878 on Peel Street, on the west side of the square, attracted many well-known figures, including British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill and French actress Sarah Bernhardt. The ice palaces built opposite the Windsor during the annual winter carnival drew huge crowds. The most impressive one, having a tower over 33 m high, was erected for the 1889 carnival. That same year, Canadian Pacific Railway added a new page to the history of Dominion Square by building Windsor Station on the square's southwest corner and making it its head office. On the north side of the square, the Dominion Square Building, which opened in 1930, was for a long time the largest retail and office complex in Canada. As the buildings surrounding this downtown square began to get taller and taller, the City brought in a by-law prohibiting towers taller than Mount Royal.