An Outline History of NDG

NDG Beginnings
On November 18, 1650 the Decarie family was granted the land that would later comprise most of the NDG area and began clearing the land on the eastern part for farming. Over time it was found that fruit farming best suited the soil and weather conditions and a number of orchards and melon fields graced the area as a result. As the population grew the Roman Catholic Parish of NDG was created and a parish church was completed in 1853 on land purchased from Eustace Prud'homme in 1849. The church still stands near the corner of NDG Avenue and Decarie Blvd.

The Village of Notre-Dame-de-Grace
In the 1860s the Catholic Diocese of Montreal decentralized its power, giving authority to local parishes to perform duties related to the administration of their districts which had been previously reserved by the central Parish of Montreal based in the Notre Dame Cathedral. In 1867 the Eglise Notre Dame de Grace received it's new mandate. Following this development was the passing of a provincial  law that allowed such parishes to incorporate into separate towns. As a result the Village of Notre Dame de Grace was formed on December 28, 1876. The village was divided into three areas: Saint Luc, St Pierre and Notre Dame.  The borders of the new village were ringed by Cote des Neiges and St. Laurent parishes to the north and east and Lachine and Cote St. Paul to the south and west. In 1877 the first mayor to be elected was Jérémie-Daniel Decarie, and the following year the new village was linked by horse-drawn tram to Montreal for the first time. By 1894 horsepower was replaced by electric streetcars.  Map of NDG in 1879

The Town of Notre-Dame-de-Grace
Development of the Montreal region to the east was progressing quickly and NDG residents witnessed the arrival of the Grand Trunk Railroad in 1855  followed by the Canadian Pacific Railroad  in 1886. In 1893 two partitions within the village became seperate entirties when the Villages of St. Pierre and Montreal West were formed from the southwestern parts of NDG. The sigle most important transportation development began in 1896 when the Montreal Park & Island Railroad began developing a tramway line from Lachine to downtown trough NDG. By 1900 the line was providing regular service to passangers who used the line to avoid the Lachine Canal transit, and as a result the Sherbrooke St. corridor became a prime area for development. In 1903 Saint Luc, comprising the northern tier became the town of Cote St. Luc (which later divided again into Cote St Luc and Hampstead). Between 1901 and 1906 the population of NDG had doubled to 1,854 and the village became a town on March 9, 1906. The newly incorporated town was sub-divided into St. Pierre, Turcot, Mount Royal Vale and Notre Dame wards.

Development and Annexation
By 1900 the Montreal city core had expanded north to the mountain and began to spread both east and west. The need for more space was clear and land holding companies began looking for logical places for that expansion to take place. In NDG  large parcels of the land  were acquired by the Kensington Land Development Company. A grid of suburban streets was conceived and in conjunction with their unofficial partners, the Montreal Tramway Corporation and  Montreal Light Heat and Power  (who had received a 30 year tax-free development deal in December 1892) the orchards and melon farms of NDG began to give way to suburban streets. In 1903 the town celebrated its 50th anniversary, but in an effort to be competitive  $400,000 was borrowed to begin to supply city services such as water supply and sewage.  In 1907 the town contracted with the Montreal Park and Island Railway to develop a grid of streetcar lines within NDG itself. All of this rapid development ended up putting the town deeply in debt -  $1,400,000 by 1910. In 1906 Thomas Trenholme (founder of Elmhurst Dairy and Guaranteed Pure Milk) became mayor and favoured annexation by Westmount. From 1907 until 1910 the town's council meetings were consumed with the indebtedness, the various contracts being issued and the case for annexation. Most of the arguments  centred around the street railway contracts which would benefit certain landholders. The Council itself was largely in favour of joining Westmount, but many of the landowning citizens preferred Montreal and at one point it even seemed that the eastern part of the town would secede and join Westmount on their own. In 1908 Westmount voted against annexing NDG, however, and the town was left with no alternative, and was annexed  instead by Montreal in 1910. Photo of Benny Farm, c. 1900

Area Schools
The city's central school boards also started looking at NDG in interest as both population and tax revenue potential grew in the area. NDG initially came under the jurisdiction Coteau St-Pierre School Comissioners(CSPSC) who were responsible for west end schools. With the annexation of NDG by the city, the question arose as to which school commission would control the district. In a Solomon-like decision the provincial government split the region into two, awarding the eastern half of the protestant population in 1916 to the Protestant Board of School Commissioners (PBSC) which controlled the schools of central Montreal. As a result the Coteau St. Pierre School Commission built an elementary school (Kensington) and a high school (West Hill) in the western half to alleviate pressure on the other CSPSC schools. The pressure was particularly felt in Montreal West  where the first high school had been built in 1894 as Aberdeen Model School. This school, rebuilt in 1931 as Montreal West High School and later known as Royal West Academy, was the only senior school in the area until the addition of West Hill High in 1918/19. On July 1st 1921  the provincial government struck again, and awarded the balance of the NDG district, including the two new schools, to the PBSC .

Revised January 13 2012