Photo by David Ward

Architectural change in the duplexes and fourplexes of Pointe-Saint-Charles

Architectural change in the duplexes and fourplexes of Pointe-Saint-Charles:

200 Years of Social and Cultural Lifestyle Evolution

A project for ARTH611: Industrialization and the Built Environment, Fall 2015

by Gillian MacCormack, Swintak, and Raphaël Trottier

Three Concordia graduate students stroll up and down the streets of Pointe-Saint-Charles (PSC), pondering how the area’s iconic, vernacular architecture illustrates one side of Montreal’s early nineteenth-century cultural and social history. Some façades seem unchanged; others have been renovated to accommodate twenty-first century tastes. We note certain architectural features, which we would soon come to recognize as typical of the community’s original, working-class character. Were such features and changes also to be found behind those multi-fashioned doorways? This was the question that motivated our group’s research and approach in the Fall of 2015.

The answers we found were the basis of our project, exhibited at Salon Laurette at the end of the semester. We focused upon the typology of the PSC duplex and fourplex, looking for physical evidence of cultural and social change, inside and out. With the intent to create a multi-media presentation of interviews with PSC residents in their homes, about their homes, we developed two specific questions that would be the basis of each interview:

What did these houses look like, and how were they organized, when the residents’ parents or grandparents lived here?

And how have residents adapted their homes and gardens, and renovated these houses to meet current needs and desires?

Our challenge then became how to meet and persuade people to allow three strangers into their homes to film and talk about ways of living, past and present. Well, when in doubt, ask – and we did. We knocked on doors, explained our interests, and were quickly invited to return at a given time and date for an interview, with permission to film anything we liked. Through our initial cold calls, further residents were recommended, and were equally welcoming.

All participants were open to talking about the architectural changes made to their dwellings over time, and how their living needs differed from those of previous generations. For our group, the icing on our cake was being able to film the actual, physical changes people had made to their homes, for aesthetic or practical reasons, while our interviewees were explaining these very same changes to us. We made a point of filming any original architectural features retained for historical interest or sentimental value. These included ceiling plaster work around a lighting fixture, narrow, steep staircases, rooms still painted in old tones, a massive beam in a cellar where a large chunk had been cut out to permit a particularly tall ancestor from banging his head, and an original brick wall with raccoon paw marks left over from when newly formed wet bricks were waiting to be placed.

These personal interviews and visits were invaluable, as research, and unforgettable experiences due to our interviewees’ enthusiasm and generosity. They allowed us to understand and visualize how cultural and social change, as well as personal narratives, are related to the built environment. Importantly, as can be found elsewhere in the world, generation-to-generation ties in the Point are linked to certain architectural features inside and outside the family home, even as these spaces are adapted to a new generations, and lifestyles. The importance of the built environment, for the people who shape it, was underscored when our interviewees joyfully attended the end of term exhibition and saw themselves and the labour and affection they have given to their homes, documented in our film.

Duplex/Fourplex by pointesaintcharles

Text by Gillian MacCormack, edited by Cynthia Hammond

2nd postcardfront copy

TNT – Consummation

Pointe St. Charles Art School/ L’École d’Art de Pointe-Saint-Charles is a community-driven Fine Art School inviting students from all levels and walks of life to come and achieve the skills to express themselves through art in the contemporary world.

Julia G. N, student of The Neighbourhood Theatre project, completed her placement here, and fell in love with the intimacy a small art school concept can offer individuals. The school offers you the sense of creative encouragement and security needed to foster artistic growth, learning, and expression.

Read More

Art Exhibit and Performance Showcase December 5th

This years Right to the City Project participants. Photo by David Ward.

This years Right to the City Project participants. Photo by David Ward.

Français a suivre. 

For the second year in a row, students from Concordia University have partnered with community organizations in Pointe-Saint-Charles to present an afternoon of neighbourhood-based research and creation. The exhibition will take place at Salon Laurette (1950 rue Centre) beginning at 1:30pm, followed by performances at Share the Warmth (625 Fortune) from 3:00-5:00pm. Events are free of charge and all are welcome!

Come out and see students showcase a collection of visual and performance projects that reflect their experiences of Pointe St-Charles and the Right to the City Project.

This event is a thank you to all the community members and partners who collaborated with the Concordia students in Art History, Art Education, Oral History and Theatre (Fall 2015) in the making of the Right to the City Project.

*Accessibility: Neither venue offers wheelchair accessibility. We sincerely apologize for this*

Facebook event:


Les étudiants de l’université Concordia continuent leur travail communautaire au sein de Pointe-Saint-Charles et vous présentent cette année leur seconde présentation annuelle de leurs travaux de recherche et de création basés sur le quartier. Dès 13h30, les visiteurs sont invités à se rendre au Salon Laurette (1950, rue Centre) pour assister aux expositions, puis à se déplacer pour les performances qui auront lieux à Partageons l’espoir (625, rue Fortune) de 15h à 17h. Tous les événements de cet après-midi sont gratuits et ouverts à tous.

Événement sur Facebook:

*Malheureusement, les établissements ne sont pas facilement accessible en chaise-roulante*

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 2.12.24 PM

The Right to the City Event at Share the Warmth

This is a rough video sharing the final performance (mostly the music) by Theatre students in the Right to the City course, a tethered teaching initiative in Pointe Saint-Charles, a postindustrial neighbourhood in Montreal’s south-west.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

“the how of the what” – A quote from our “Zine” Team!

By Linda Fitzgibbon

When I started my program at Concordia in January 2014, I thought that it would be easy to commute from Ottawa. On stormy winter days there was the added advantage of never even stepping outside into the cold. The hardest part of my commute was getting from my house to the express bus stop at the end of my driveway. One step from the bus to the Via Rail train station and I was able to take advantage of Montreal’s wonderful tunnel and Metro system. However, it was more time consuming and expensive than I had expected, so I began to investigate the possibilities of renting an apartment in Montreal.

Read More

Thinking in "reel"time

Audio-walks and the Art of Time Traveling

By Rebecca De Sanctis

Prior to this class, I had never gone on an audio-walk tour before. As a public history student, this is a somewhat blasphemous statement to make (it’s almost as absurd as saying that you grew up in Montreal and never watched a Habs game). I don’t know why but I had always envisioned audio-walks as being the outside equivalent to walking around with one of those mp3 players that are offered at museums, in which a middle aged woman with a monotone voice lectures you for thirty seconds every time you enter the number of an exhibit. In was only when our class did the Lachine Canal audio-walk in September that I realized the true value of audio-walks.

Read More

Photo by David Ward


By Dany Guay-Belanger

Being part of the booklet team, and am francophone, I offered myself for translation duty. I had some experience as I had done some freelance translations for a friend. I knew that translation was a complex job, but I had not envisioned how hard this was going to be. My previous experiences had been with a small window installation company and a welding company. The greatest challenge, in these instances, was the jargon used by both professions, especially due to the particularity of French in Quebec — which uses many English words.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

The Tracks

By: Ashlie Bienvenu

Something that always struck me about the Point was the abundance of train tracks. As we stood in front of the library on our November 29th launch day, the constant, overpowering sound of trains could be heard. There were even episodes during the class presentation, before the audio walk, where the train was so loud it was nearly impossible to hear them speak. I remember thinking that it was ironic since the trains were such an integral part of the Point St. Charles community. Perhaps they were saluting us for our job well done, since they have become a kind of symbol of the Point.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

Finding the ‘Courage to Abandon’: On Interdisciplinary and Socially Engaged Research

By Sara Breikeutz

Transdisciplinary striving … is a process of dialogue where truth and synthesis emerge out of dialogue, rather than begin with it.

Ananta Kumar Giri1

Giri, an anthropologist by training, proposes that in order to transcend interdisciplinary work as the negotiation of accepted boundaries between academic disciplines, transdisciplinary practice entails an abandonment, or at least a momentary suspension, of disciplinary identities and the adoption of the attitude of a pilgrim or seeker. If we can find the “courage to abandon our disciplines as part of our journey of life”2, he argues, we might be able to harness the transformative potential of academia and move beyond discourses of professionalization that keep disciplines neatly bounded, even in many interdisciplinary endeavours where work is done across disciplines rather than beyond them.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

Curating Sounds

By Jennifer Wicks

In spite of the fact that I had never been a part of an oral history project prior to this one, I have had the chance to develop a few sound based collages and although working with audio files, editing and mixing were not new to me, working with some of the tools we used, was. Although it’s a bit of a side note, I was completely blown away by the fact that the oral history department had developed a software (Stories Matter) where we could upload sound or video recordings of interviews, and code them, the way that I am accustomed to color coding a transcript or text based data set. By tagging interviews with time codes and themes, we were able to really sort through the data as a team, and develop a way to analyze and represent the data in a system that made sense to us, collectively.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

Collaborative Process

By Jennifer Wicks

One of my main reasons for taking this course was the complexity of the project… Including students from numerous departments, studying in a wide range of disciplines – history, geography, art education, art history, fine arts/studio, theatre… (I’m sure I’m missing some, but you get the picture), who are at different stages in their academic careers – Undergrads, Master’s and PhD and Post Doctoral… all working on the same project multi faceted project seemed like a close to impossible task.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

Voices and Silence: Reflections on Authorship and Community

By: Sara Breitkreutz

[C]onflicting interpretations of the past, serving to legitimate a particular understanding of the present, are put to use in a battle over what is to come. What are at issue are competing histories of the present, wielded as arguments over what should be the future.

Doreen Massey, Places and Their Pasts1

One afternoon in mid-October, as I crunched through leaves swept onto on the sidewalk on Charlevoix Street by a crisp autumn breeze, I ran into an old friend, a young man from Bangladesh whose family had moved to Montreal when he was an infant. “What are you doing here?” I asked cheerfully, after we had greeted each other. “I live here!” he replied, and it came back to me. He had mentioned years earlier that he lived somewhere in the southwest, but at the time I had not yet been to Point Saint Charles, and the neighbourhood was merely a fuzzy zone in my mental map of the city comprised of factories and condos and easily confused with Saint Henri and Verdun.

Read More

All Sides of the Tracks: The Multiple Meanings of Our Project’s Subtitle

By Pharo Sok

After much debate, our class finally decided on the title of our audiowalk and booklet: “La Pointe: The Other Side of the Tracks.” While the discussions were intense at times (should we use “The City Below the Hill,” or not?), the majority of us agreed that a reference to the train tracks physically dividing Point St. Charles was effective and appropriate.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

Being Monolingual in a Bilingual World

By Greg Coulter

My French, as an old roommate described hers, is “murde.”

To complicate things further, my “murde” French is Parisian. I can usually understand parts of what (Parisian) French people are saying, but I’m more or less entirely lost on anything Quebecois people say. To illustrate that, I’m less lost with “voulez-vous un sac?” while I’m much more lost with the French interviewees.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

La Cafe de la Petite Gaule

By Leah Girardo

Ever since I started visiting montreal well over a decade ago I have always been taken by the Southwest. For years most of my friends have lived in Saint-Henri, the Point and Verdun (and admittedly a few up in the Mile End), and I spent most of my visits in recent years staying in Point-Saint-Charles. Much of my time in Montreal was centred around attending punk and other DIY shows, getting in the street for demos and reconnecting with friends at the annual anarchist bookfair.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

Bringing the Deep Dark Secret to Light

By Mitchell Edwards

The Deep Dark Secret of oral history is that nobody spends much time listening to or watching recorded and collected interview documents. There has simply been little serious interest in the primary audio or video interviews that literally define the field and that the method is organized to produce.1

Michael Frisch

As a recent convert to its practice, I find myself increasingly interested in the methodological processes, dilemmas and opportunities that not only define oral history, but also distinguish it from other forms of studying the past. While the privileging of orality within the field was what initially captured my interest, my attention has since been directed towards how the sensory nature of such sources might retain their important oral and aural dimensions when incorporated into other modalities— projects, publications and productions that employ different methods to present and analyze the past.

Read More


Reclaiming Body Territory Through Activism in Pointe-St-Charles

By Katrina Caruso

For girls and women, to live in our bodies in a male-controlled world is to live in places of continual siege. […] I have not wholly concluded the process of reclaiming all the territory that is my body. The reconquering of territory and the maintenance of territory continues daily. Someday I will fully and unconditionally occupy all of its space at all times. – Si Tranken

Walking through Pointe-St-Charles, I have found that the neighborhood has both charming spots – lush greenery and big trees, homes with stories – and not-as-nice spaces – concrete industrialism and run-down buildings. Through my site visits, I was most drawn to the places that are part of the latter. These spaces hold a certain kind of tension – they are the in-between: reminders of moments, of activity no longer there, and places of movement, places we use to get to and from.

Read More

Stanfield - Website Photo 2

Adventure Party

By Evan Stanfield and Laura O’Brien

Like many post-industrial neighborhoods throughout North America, Montreal’s Pointe Saint-Charles is currently experiencing a rapid rate of urban renewal and development as city planners try to envision a future for a place that was built around industries that have slowly disappeared. But as long-vacant buildings, and neglected plots of land are hastily transformed into condominiums, the amount and the variety of shared urban spaces that residents of the neighborhood have access to is decreasing. It is with this thought in mind that I set out explore Pointe Saint-Charles in search of a way to engage with the neighborhood through an urban intervention project.

Read More

Photo: Lisa Graves

Grace by Lisa graves

By Lisa Graves

In October 2014, a small group of guests were invited to participate in a sound installation and collective composition while touring the remaining bell tower structure at Share the Warmth in Pointe-Sainte-Charles.

Anthropologist Kathleen Stewart remarks that every person is a series of compositional moments. These are the kind of moments I’ve encountered at Share the Warmth in Pointe-Sainte-Charles. Compositional captures made up of the rhythms of people, events and happenings in a place where life unfolds in an acoustic flow.

Read More


Saturday November 29 – Audio tour / Exhibition of projects and short performances

Français à suivre. Download as PDF.

Pointe Saint-Charles “Shares the Warmth” as Concordia Students partner with local organizations

On November 29th, three classes from Concordia University will be showcasing work done this semester in Pointe St-Charles. The event is open to the public and features an audio tour of the neighbourhood followed by an exhibition of projects and short performances. The audio walk departs from the Pointe-St-Charles Library (1050 Hibernia) at 1pm and the exhibition is at Share the Warmth (625 Fortune) from 2:30-5:30pm.

Read More

Photo credit: Damien Smith, bottom right, David Ward

X Marks Your Spot

By Damien Smith

I am an individual of what would be best described as coming from a rural working class/blue collar background. Most of my childhood was spent on a former cold war era army base converted to housing that by the 1990’s had become an economic burden to both the municipal and provincial governments: was then abandoned and became a ghost town and a few years later demolished and razed to the ground.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

Porcs-flics- Assassins de Ferguson à MTL

By Dany Guay-Bélanger

During our meetings at Share the Warmth I decided to skip the bus ride, in favour of walking from and to Charlevoix metro station. Like this, I could familiarize more with the neighbourhood, and I would be able immerse myself in our place of study. My route would always bring me in front of the rue Knox Mural. I was impressed when I heard that one of the ‘sponsors’ for the project had been a local anarchist activist group.
Photo by David Ward


By Kate Abarnel

In many ways, what we are doing by telling the story of Point St. Charles is new to me. Before I moved to Montreal permanently in September, I’d spent a lot of time in the city, but I’d never heard of The Lachine Canal or Pointe St. Charles, and I’d certainly never been there. That all changed at the beginning of September, when I first discovered the Lachine canal and the audiowalk that had been created for it. And I was like, “whooooaaaa, this is all so neeeew, and I have so many things that I thiiiiink about it!”

Read More

Photo Credit: Zoe Wonfor

A Brief History of Interiors: Point St-Charles

By Zoe Wonfor

To be outside something is to be inside something else. To be outside (something) is to afford oneself the possibility of a perspective to look upon the inside. Which is made difficult if not impossible from the inside. This is the rare and unexpected joy of outsideness: to see what cannot be seen from the inside.

Elizabeth Grosz – Architecture from the Outside.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

Learning to Embrace the Unsettling: The Benefits of Owning Our Involvement in the Curatorial Process

By Mitchell Edwards

Over the past two weeks, I’ve found our class time together has generated a number of important and thought-provoking discussions—conversations that have risen from the practical demands of the project at hand, yet belong to a larger discourse that continues to shape methodologies fundamental to the discipline of history.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

Self-Reflexivity: A Complex Process

By Linda Fitzgibbon

Who is the intended audience for our audio walk? What is our message? What story of Pointe Saint-Charles do we want to convey? I know that we have all been thinking about these questions. We are also in the process of working out the “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how,” details of what we will include in our final audio walk. It is this process that I would like to think about in this blog.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

Voice & Authorship in Oral History

by Elizabeth Tabakow

“Even accepting that the working class speaks through oral history, it is clear that the class does not speak in the abstract, but speaks to the historian, with the historian and, inasmuch as the material is published, through the historian.”

Alessandro Portelli, “What Makes Oral History Different,” in The Death of Luigi Trastulli and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History(Albany: SUNY Press, 1991), 56.

Read More


Sites of Social Engagement and Culture at the Point

By John Toohey

I was first drawn to Point Saint Charles’ elliptical shape. Ringed by industry and cut off from the rest of the city, it suggested a neighbourhood that would become self-reliant and inward looking. These were ideal circumstances for the development of a distinct or idiosyncratic culture.

Read More


A Place for Food in Public Space: Learning from Food Security Activism in the Point

By Isadora Chicoine-Marinier et Samantha Wexler

Starting from the discovery of Le Ratatouillé collective garden and L’Épicerie Solidaire on Grand Trunk Street, this intervention is an ongoing field-research project around food security and activism in Point-Saint-Charles from past to future.

Read More


Voice & Authorship in Oral History

By Elizabeth Tabakow 

“Even accepting that the working class speaks through oral history, it is clear that the class does not speak in the abstract, but speaks to the historian, with the historian and, inasmuch as the material is published, through the historian.”

Alessandro Portelli, “What Makes Oral History Different,” in The Death of Luigi Trastulli and Other Stories: Form and Meaning in Oral History (Albany: SUNY Press, 1991), 56.

Read More

Songs for Rent - Emotional Cartography

Songs for Rent: Emotional Cartography

By Dario Ré

The proliferation of post-industrial gentrification in Pointe-Saint-Charles has transformed once-affordable rental housing into condo homes, displacing memories embedded in space and thus, as Steve Pile suggests in Temporalities, Autobiography and Everyday Life, “narratives of the self.” He argues these narratives are “more than just ‘situated’ in the sense of having a particular, unique time and place.” They are “inherently spatial [and] spatially constituted. Stories of the self are ‘produced’ out of the spatialities that seemingly only provide the backdrop for those stories ourselves.”1

Read More


Living Scrapbook

By Anne-Marie St. Louis

The Living Scrapbook is an innovative, artistic form I’ve been developing, a multimedia project that would hopefully involve, represent and serve the community. The idea came as I explored Pointe-St-Charles, recorded my impressions of the neighborhood and gathered as many photographs, sounds, quotes, painting and maps as I could find.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

Impressions of Point Saint Charles from the Inside and Out

By Emilie Cassini

My Individual Impressions project has two parts. The first past is a small compilation of impressions of Pointe St-Charles from inside and out; a collection of quotes about the neighbourhood from people who live within the neighbourhood and from people in my own class who are studying the neighbourhood from without.

Read More

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 12.10.12 PM

Silence: A Ghost Story

Set in various locations of the Atwater library–including the atmospheric basement and boiler rooms–this piece mixed live storytelling and projected video, historical fact and creative fiction to illustrate the historical past of the Mechanic’s Institute of Montreal in relation to the current day Atwater Library and Computer Centre. Through this process, we hope to bring to light the many creative aspects that make up this complex place in a fun, entertaining way. Original Ghost Story and Concept by Katherine Downey in subsequent partnership with Anaberta Argueta, Christopher Carignano, & Molly Hotson.

Read More

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 12.00.56 PM

Cabaret: The Story of Imaginative Community at the Atwater Library

Artists’ Statement: as musicians, actors and puppeteers we wanted to create a live musical, visual, and experiential performance to help foster the message of the library as a place of fun and imagination at “the heart” of the neighbourhood.  Collaborating Artists:  Emily Schon, Morgan Nerenberg, Iva Delic, Luisa Muhr.

Read More

Photo by David Ward

A Poem by Molly Hotson

By Molly Hotson

I wrote this poem in the hopes that I would be able to effectively relay my personal experience and journey thus far with the Atwater Library. To me, the Atwater Library’s identity is everchanging. Beginning as the Mechanic’s Institute of Montreal, the library has now developed into a centre designed to bring the community together through education and outreach. The more I learned about the Atwater Library, the more I realized that it was impossible to describe the library in just a few words. And so, this poem was born.

Read More

Photo on 12-10-09 at 12.28 AM #2

The Story of the Atwater Library

By Emily Schon

In 1821 a group of concerned men—including Reverend Henry Esson, the Governor of Lower Canada and the Sheriff of Montreal—gathered to discuss what they called the “riff-raff” problem.  The Reverend and his men were concerned that the proletariat where throwing away their pennies in the of gin mills and bear pits! Thus began the struggle of the Montreal Mechanic’s Institute to educate modern man!

Read More

TNT Haiku

Photo Haikus

By Morgan Nerenberg

Photo Haikus are an ancient poetic form, while Twitter is a cutting edge social network. Both however are linked by having extreme limitations on the length of any single “post”.  I chose to combine this two forms while also adding in photography. By “searching out Haikus” I was able to take photographs that then were to subject of a short poem, and then posted to them Twitter. Original Concept and Realization by Morgan Nerenberg.

Read More