The origins of Saint-Lambert date back to the 17th century. The town is made up of what were the outermost portions of two seigniories: La Prairie, which had been granted to the Jesuits in 1647, and Longueuil, which had been conferred upon the Montreal trader Charles Le Moyne in 1657. Present-day Victoria Avenue represents the dividing line between the two seigniories.
The tract of land that had been part of La Prairie, then known as Mouillepied, was granted between 1674 and 1697, and the portion that had been the Longueuil seigniory would only be donated at the end of the 17th century. Some of Saint-Lambert’s current residents are descended from the early pioneering families: Trudeau, Marsil, Ste-Marie, Achim. Sadly, however, no traces remain of these 17th-century colonists, but their descendants built fieldstone houses in the last quarter of the 18th century that still stand today for us to admire: the O’Donnell house, the maison Beauvais, and the maison Marsil (the Museum of Costume and textile of Québec, formerly the Marsil Museum).
English farmers settled there in the first part of the 19th century, and the territory retained its rural character until the beginning of the 1850s, when Montreal business- men and the managers of the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad saw an opportunity for development in Saint-Lambert’s proximity to Montreal.
In 1852, they built a line off the main railroad that had linked the villages of La Prairie and Saint-Jean since 1836. The terminal was moved from La Prairie to Saint-Lambert. The railway line thus stretched across Mouillepied all the way to the river, between Lorne and Argyle avenues. A branch extending to Île Moffat, where Île Notre-Dame is today, was added so that trains could unload their cargo, which would then be transported by boat across the river to Montreal. In 1854, a bold enterprise began to see the light of day: the construction of the Victoria Bridge. It was completed in 1859.
With the infrastructures needed for the establishment of the railway in place, the urbanization of this territory, which had, up until that point, been primarily agricultural, was inevitable. In 1857, conscious of the promise the presence of the railway held for the development of the territory, the property owners of Saint-Lambert requested that it be incorporated as a municipality; it became a village in 1892, a town in 1898, and, eventually, a city in 1921.
In the 1880s, the municipality of Saint-Lambert evolved into a middle-class, predominantly Anglo-Protestant, residential suburb, made up of white-collar workers, middle managers, craftsmen, and shopkeepers, whose livelihoods were largely linked to the railway. In the decades following, the erstwhile majority Francophone Catholic population dwindled, to recover its numbers only around the 1970s.
In 1969, the town of Préville was annexed to Saint-Lambert. In January 2002, Saint-Lambert was merged with seven other South-Shore cities to form the new city of Longueuil. However, following a referendum, under Bill 9 and various government decrees, the city of Saint-Lambert was officially reconstituted on January 1, 2006.
To learn more...
You can contact the Société d'histoire Mouillepied at 450-465-4242 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.