Sohmer Park

Photos Courtesy McCord Museum

“This picture shows a small part of the switching yard of Viger Station in 1910. Several blocks of the working-class Ste. Marie neighbourhood had just been demolished to enlarge these facilities. An old section of Notre Dame Street (northeast of Old Montreal) had been demolished. In the background, Sohmer Park can be seen, with its concert hall and its big trees. The park, which became more and more an integral part of the industrial environment, would be closed in 1919.” From McCord Museum archives.

The “refreshment tables”. One of the articles below refers to Sohmer Park as being a live Seurat painting. Indeed!

A brief history of Sohmer Park.

Louis Cyr was among the many performers there.

And this page looks at the dance and dress of the times.


12 responses to “Sohmer Park

  1. I had never heard of Sohmer Park till now. In the first photo it states that you can see the concert hall and large trees, but I can’t make it out. Do you by chance have any other photos that might better show this area?

    Much appreciated


  2. Could it be that big building with Derry5 written on it is the back of the concert hall? The dark area around it could be the trees. I have yet to find a better photograph showing the relationship of the rail yards to the park, but will keep an eye out!


  3. Could it be that Sohmer Park is right where the Old Port is located today? Or is it up toward the Radio Canada tower? Did the Bonsecours Wharf exist at the time these photos were taken? What about the Molson clock tower?

    I suspect that what we are seeing is further east of the Old Port than the descriptions given, but the photos have me turned around.

  4. In the first article above it says, “Lavigne rented the historic property located between the St Lawrence shoreline and Salaberry, Notre-Dame, and Panet streets”. That gives a good idea of how east it was, not what we call the Old Port area at all, but not that far from a lot of action.

  5. So I should have read the linked articles first I see. As I suspected, Sohmer Park went as far east as what is today Radio Canada. There were probably ‘concert trains’ that ran to Viger Sta on special evenings for park-goers.

    Some of the pavillions described remind me of Parc Lafontaine and what they have in Chicago, the more linear Grant Park.

    Seems to me that urbanist histories should mention the periodic and severe economic cycles from 1820 up to the 1940s to understand some of the ups and downs experienced by developers. When the economic picture was rosy, there were massive investments everywhere. I just read that toward the tail-end of the Klondike gold rush, after the 1899 bust and shift in interest in Nome, Alaska instead, CP Rail (I forget the BC name for it) invested 10 million dollars to extend a line into the Yukon River Valley crossing massive casms and peaks to get to the gold.

    Of course, even the timing of the world wars was related to economic boom and bust, so the fate of urban speculations seems almost secondary.

  6. Neath, you are probably correct about the ‘Derry5’ being the pavillion as I just read in the link provided that it held 7000 and was enclosed for winter use. That is a fair size and may well explain the large size of that Derry5 building which I would never has guessed was a pavillion.

  7. Look at the Lachine Canal areas that have seen so much condo development in the last 20-25 years. Prior to 1980 you just about couldn’t pay people to live along the Canal – it was dominated by neighborhoods people dreamed of getting out of. Ironically a lot of its industrial past is still the most interesting stuff. The architecture was an eclectic mix of the eccentric and the awesome and the condo projects have no more staying power than apartment complexes from the 50’s and 60’s did at the time.

  8. yeah, well at least most of those interesting industrial buildings have been saved from the wreckers ball having been transformed into condo’s…. I once looked at a condo in the Belding Corticelli buiding and it was quite nice. They even kept the interior wooden(?) pillars and incorperated them into the hallway walls. Kinda wish I had bought a the time as a nice end unit was like 130,000$… can only imagine what it is now.. too much probably.

  9. Some of them were very nicely integrated. I am thinking more of the “bloat” that tends to fan out from there like along where the tracks used to run under the viaducts at Guy and Mountain.

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