The exile of farm animals (1755)

News 15 July, 2017
  • Gilles Proulx

    Saturday, 15 July 2017 17:39

    Saturday, 15 July 2017 17:39

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    In 1755, a political decision that will transform Montreal forever. It is an event that evoke seldom the historians, but Mario Robert, the chief archivist of the City of Montreal, remembers that. Up to now, men and animals lived side by side in Montreal. Farms adjoined the houses, and, often, the first floor was a farm, while we lived on the second. Given to donkeys, oxen, hens, and pigs ‘reasonable accommodation’, and these flowed freely in the streets. They lived ” intra-muros “, as we like to say in Paris, that is to say, within the confines of the city.

    It was, however, enough, and things will change with the ordinance of may 10, 1755, just before the Conquest. Jacques-Joseph Guiton de Monrepós, lieutenant general of the jurisdiction of Montreal, decided to oversee more closely the care of the livestock. In the pen or in the animals ! Finished off the public road as a place of grazing and grazing and defecation ! Anyone who has farm animals must now be kept on its own ground : it becomes almost impossible, in practice, raise animals in the city.

    Was it the smell ? The noise ? The unsanitary conditions ? It is unimaginable today to raise pigs in his back yard, but it was common at the time. For the firm worthy of the name, it must come out of the city, which is still tiny, it has to be said. The city centre today is the forest!!!

    The other hand of fate

    The countryside that extends around the walled city constantly goes back. Montreal is urbanizing, expelling what she had always content campaign. A century ago, Maisonneuve and Saint-Léonard were still in the fields. Even at Verdun, in my youth, in the 1950s, Gordon street, the station CKVL had for neighbour in front a farmhouse with pigs and chickens ! We are going to build lots of bungalows on former wheat fields of India. This distinction between the city and the farm does not exist, at least not officially, before 1755.

    The other hand of fate, the agriculture is getting today for a place in the city, with the beekeepers, urban market gardens on the roofs, and there was even, in particular, in Rosemont, to raising chickens. Why not ? Exclude, however, the roosters, whose song morning would make us crazy… We love the fresh air and the greenery, and the animals are a part of. I’m not saying that a barn would have its place in the Mile-End, but… why not re-introduce a little campaign in our islands concrete pavers ? In Griffintown, the battle has been raging for a long time to preserve the stables of the Horse Palace (which we refuse to gallicize the name). The promoters of apartment buildings to condos are, of course, embarrassed of his presence… Of the nose for the face because of the manure… But, frankly, what makes the city unlivable these days, it’s the smog, the pollution ! And so much the better if it remains a bit of nature in our walls. If we must be ashamed of something today, rather, it is our tolerance of the mistreatment of domestic animals.

    Photo courtesy of the municipal Archives of Montreal

    This order explains the new regulations affecting farm animals in the city. The goal : to provide a strong incentive for the breeders to settle in the periphery. And constantly, the city urbanisera in pushing the campaign further and further away. In a hundred years, Montreal is changing.

    Photo courtesy of the municipal Archives of Montreal

    The city in 1758, three years after the ordinance, we seem quite small today.

    Photo courtesy of the municipal Archives of Montreal

    There was a time when the city, seen from the mont Royal – what the drawing looked like a large village. Before the industrial revolution, the island remained a country… even if it had to one day ask the firm to settle outside the city itself.

    – With the collaboration of Louis-Philippe Messier