The Victoria School, in the Heart of Quartier 21 by Jean Michaël

This article was written as part of the Peter-McGill Community Council’s Citizen Journalism project, which aims to raise the voices of local residents, students and friends of the neighbourhood through writing, photos, videos and podcasting. If you would like to contribute please get in touch at communicationpic@petermcgill.org or 514-424-6614

Have you heard about the Victoria School? the EMRTM? The 1822, boulevard De Maisonneuve Ouest?

Most probably you walked by this patrimonial building more than once, just two blocks away from the Concordia University campus.

Built in 1887, its life spans over three centuries! Really? Yes! Today, this rather traditionally conceived Victorian-style edifice can proudly claim to be youthful, and definitely more modern, at least ecologically speaking, than scores of recently completed projects.

Did its designer, Montreal architect Alexander Francis Dunlop, ever imagine what his work would become, say in the 20th or 21st century? Probably not.

He expected children from the then Quartier St-Antoine to attend this elementary school for decades, but he could not have realistically foreseen the needs and means of the modern times ahead.

In 2009 an incredible structural metamorphosis occurred, forever modifying the building mainly from the inside but on the outside as well. Extensive renovations initiated in 2009 by the Commission scolaire de Montréal (CSDM) and set in motion by an ecologically-minded project, resulted in 2012, in the fusion of the old with the new, giving birth to the École des métiers de la restauration et du tourisme de Montréal (EMRTM).

And? What was so unusual about these renovations you ask? Well, thanks to an ambitious and successful partnership and  exhaustive and sound environmental planning, the City of Montreal initiated in 2005, its brand-new ‘green sector’ Quartiers 21 project (named after UN’s Resolution 21), among them Peter-McGill’s own Quartier 21, delimited by the Saint-Marc, Saint-Mathieu, Sainte-Catherine streets and Blvd. De Maisonneuve West. In 2015 the site was awarded, for its design, the LEED-Silver Certification, an international ecological building standard. Have you heard of LEED before? Personally, I had not, but I am glad to write about it. In a nutshell, its objectives are to save energy and water, reduce green house gasses, recycle and create green roofs.   

In the heart of the Peter-McGill District is located a prime example of successful partnership, careful planning and most importantly ecological citizenry, setting a sound and duplicable example for such future projects.

Meanwhile, on a less technical and historical note, you are invited to relax, at lunch or dinner, and indulge in tasting the delicious dishes and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere at the EMRTM’s restaurant. 

P.S. For a few months in 1965-1966 I was a pupil in this school, in their French-speaking section. Back then it was affiliated with the PSBGM (Protestant School Board of Grater Montreal).  Oh no, now you all know how old I am!

Jean A. Michaël  

References: CSDM, EMRTM, Patrimoine Montréal

Photos: CSDM