When we talk about the treasures hidden in the streets of Montreal, we generally refer to good addresses.
Rue du Couvent, in the Sud-Ouest arrondissement, is literally the street that contains an artifact from the past.
Old wooden sleepers probably dating from the mid-19th centurye century are once again visible on the road axis.
They are located just north of Notre-Dame Street, in the Saint-Henri district. Images captured over 15 years by Google Street View show that the sleepers resurfaced a few years ago, before being covered with asphalt, a covering which has now disappeared.
According to Pierre Barrieau, president of Gris Orange Consultant and lecturer at the faculty of planning at the University of Montreal, these are most likely sleepers of the railway line which connected the port of Lachine to the city center of Montreal, the first railway in Montreal, which crossed the sector.
“I would bet it comes from that railway,” he said.
Dismantling of railways
At the time, three railway companies were present in Montreal: Canadian National (CN), Canadian Pacific (CP) and Grand Trunc.
“The CN went downtown, to Central Station. The CP passed through Windsor station and Viger station. And the Grand Trunk connected Lachine to a station which was next to what is today the École de Technologie Supérieure (ÉTS),” says Mr. Barrieau.
The expert notes that several railway lines have been dismantled in the past. “But removing the rails was expensive, so in many cases the solution was to simply spread bitumen over them. You can still see rails sometimes between the asphalt on rue Sainte-Catherine in the West, or even on rue Saint-Jacques. »
In the case of rue du Couvent, only the wooden sleepers remained.
Over the years, freezing and thawing cause the sleepers to become visible again. A phenomenon which is accelerating with climate warming, notes Mr. Barrieau.
Before, the frost lasted all winter in Montreal. Now, we experience several episodes of freezing and thawing during the cold season, so that makes the phenomenon even more common.
Pierre Barrieau, lecturer at the University of Montreal
The presence of wooden sleepers on the road is therefore “normal”, he says, adding that the situation still presents a certain danger.
“People might think it’s a pedestrian crossing, when it’s not. Also, when wood is wet, it becomes slippery, so it could cause a pedestrian or cyclist to fall, for example,” he says.
Anyck Paradis, communications manager for the South-West district, notes that the street is part of the City’s arterial network.
“While awaiting its repair as part of funding from the Supplementary Leveling-Surfacing Program, our teams will carry out a temporary repair,” she said.