Carré Saint-Louis is a popular destination for local residents and visitors to Montréal. The park’s design accommodates many diverse uses and allows for them to take place simultaneously. There are several benches around the park, which are used as lunch-spots for local business people, rest stops for visitors passing through, and seating from which to view the planned and impromptu performances that take place around the central fountain. The open lawns accommodate local university students and weekend picnic-goers, while the paths that cut through the square provide a convenient connection between one of the city’s major thoroughfares, Rue Saint-Denis, and a busy pedestrian section of Rue Prince Arthur. While the architecture of the surrounding private residences draws tourists to Carré Saint-Louis, the frequent referencing of the neighborhood and the park in French Canadian-arts and its own Victorian design have made the park an attraction in and of itself.
When the land for Carré Saint-Louis was acquired in 1848, it was intended to become the site of Montréal’s water reservoir. With Montréal’s exponential population growth over the following years, however, the site was deemed too small for the rapidly changing and expanding city. Instead of the original reservoir-plan, the site was developed into a classical Victorian park. Shortly after its completion, a number of Montréal’s elite industrialists constructed suburban mansions around Carré Saint-Louis. The site became immediately popular because of its natural setting and the easy access it provided in and out of the then industrial waterfront downtown on public transportation. While this neighborhood has since been annexed into the urban core of Montréal, its homes (especially those with views of Carré Saint-Louis) continue to be some of the most sought after in the city. Today, the neighborhood is one of Montréal’s major art districts and a number of notable French Canadian artists have lived and continue to live around Carré Saint-Louis. Many of these artists have used the park and surrounding neighborhood as their subject matter and its has become one of the most important sites in the tradition of contemporary French Canadian arts.
*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.
With locally-inspired activities that fly in the face of traditional park programs, from bread-baking to puppet shows, Toronto residents created a community place out of a park neglected by locals and city officials alike.