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Goose Village, Montreal

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Goose Village, Montreal

"Windmill Point" redirects here. For other uses, see Windmill Point (disambiguation).

Goose Village
Abandoned town
Victoriatown

Old Victoriatown train station, today.
Montreal

Coordinates: 45°28′57″N 73°32′53″W / 45.48240°N 73.54802°W / 45.48240; -73.54802Coordinates: 45°28′57″N 73°32′53″W / 45.48240°N 73.54802°W / 45.48240; -73.54802

Country Canada
Province Quebec
City Montreal
Borough Le Sud-Ouest
Area[1]
 • Land 0.47 km2 (0.18 sq mi)
Elevation 20 m (70 ft)
Population (2011)[1][2]
 • Total 0
 • Density 0/km2 (0/sq mi)
 • Population (1963) 1,500



Goose Village (French: "Village-aux-Oies") was a neighbourhood in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Its official but less commonly used name was Victoriatown, after the adjacent Victoria Bridge. The neighbourhood was built on an area formerly known as Windmill Point, where thousands of Irish immigrants died from disease in 1847-1848.

Location

Goose Village was located near Griffintown, in what is now the southwest borough. The community encompassed six streets, in what is now a bus station and parking lot. The streets were named after various bridges designed by the principal engineer of the Victoria Bridge, Robert Stephenson.[3]

History

Typhus epidemic

Windmill Point was a quarantine area where between 3,500 and 6,000 Irish immigrants died of typhus or "ship fever," in 1847 and 1848. The immigrants had been transferred from quarantine in Grosse Isle, Quebec. Due to a lack of suitable preparations, typhus soon reached epidemic proportions in Montreal. Three fever sheds were initially constructed, 150 feet (46 m) long by 40 to 50 feet (15 m) wide. As thousands more sick immigrants landed, more sheds had to be erected.[4]

The number of sheds would grow to 22, with troops cordoning off the area so the sick couldn't escape. Grey Nuns cared for the sick, carrying women and children in their arms from ships to the ambulances. According to Montreal journalist and historian Edgar Andrew Collard, thirty of 40 nuns who went to help became ill, with seven dying. Other nuns took over, but once the surviving Grey Nuns had convalesced, they returned. Priests also helped, many falling ill after hearing the last confessions of the dying. When a mob threatened to throw the fever sheds into the river, Montreal mayor John Easton Mills quelled the riot and provided care, giving patients water and changing bedding. He died in November, serving less than a year in office. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Montreal urged French Quebecers to help their fellow Catholics. Many travelled to Montreal from the countryside to adopt children, in some cases passing their land on to them.[5]

The Black Rock

Main article: Irish Commemorative Stone

A large black rock was erected in 1859 by workers to honour the victims, whose remains were uncovered during the construction of the Victoria Bridge.[2][6] Its official English name is the Irish Commemorative Stone, but it is more commonly referred to as The Black Rock.[5]

Demolition in 1964

By 1960, most of the residents were

The town was simply bulldozed in 1964, leaving only the fire station, train station, and the Black Rock memorial to note the passing of a proud community. The decision to raze the community put the many families out of their residences, consigning to memory the history of the village .[3] Many of the razed homes had been built in Victorian style, but this alone was not enough to save them from the demolition.[2]

According to Kristian Gravenor, who conducted many interviews with former residents for a MA essay on Goose Village written in 1985, many speculated on the true causes that inspired the demolition. Some point to the urban renewal movement, which argued that poorer areas simply be demolished. Others speculated that it was a method for Drapeau to get even with his long time civic political nemesis Frank Hanley, who represented the area. Many former residents suspected that Drapeau wanted the unglamorous area gone, as it would be the first place on the island that visitors to Expo 67 would see when arriving in Montreal via the Victoria Bridge.[8]

After the demolition

Goose Village has been referred to as "sacred" and "special" by former residents. Joe Berlettano, who led the Victoriatown Boys Club in the village from 1955-1960 referred to the small-town culture of Goose Village as "just a beautiful environment." Another former resident, Linda Frannetti, when asked whether she would return to live in the village if she could answers, "Everybody says the same thing: We'd all go back." The Autostade — a football stadium erected for Expo 67 on part of the eight hectares where Goose Village had stood—was itself torn down in the late 1970s. Today this area is mostly uninhabited, containing light industry, a Costco, a train station parking lot, and undeveloped land.[3]

Efforts by former residents of Goose Village to rebuild their community were blocked by the city, which claimed that soil in their plot of land was too polluted for residential use.[9]

Popular culture

The Brisset Beer Company, a microbrewery in nearby Griffintown, created "Victoria Town", an Irish-style stout, named for the former neighbourhood.[10]

References

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