Place Viger in 2006
|Alternative names||Édifice Jacques-Viger|
|Design and construction|
Place Viger was both a grand hotel and railway station in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, constructed in 1898 and named after Denis-Benjamin Viger a 19th-century Lower Canadian politician, lawyer, businessman, and Patriote movement member. Although combined stations and hotels were common in the United Kingdom in the late 19th century, the concept was unique to Canada.
Place Viger was designed by Bruce Price for the Canadian Pacific Railway, and was built near what was then the central core of Montreal, in proximity to the financial district, the city hall, the port and the court house. The mayor of Montreal, Raymond Préfontaine, strongly encouraged its construction in an area central to the French Canadian élites, in contrast to the rival Windsor Hotel to the west, which was perceived to cater to the city's anglophone classes. The rail station served as the terminus of the CP passenger rail lines running into downtown Montreal from the north and east. It replaced the older Dalhousie Station. Its counterpart terminus for CP passenger rail lines running into downtown Montreal from the south and west was Windsor Station.
Constructed in the château-style common to Canada's railway hotels, Place Viger housed the railway station in its lower levels and a luxurious hotel on the upper floors. Place Viger enjoyed an enviable setting among the Viger Gardens, allowing both railway travellers and hotel guests to stroll along the garden paths.
The shifting of Montreal's commercial core to the north-west, and the onset of the economic depression of the 1930s, proved disastrous for Place Viger. The hotel closed in 1935. In 1951, the railway station was also closed, and the building was sold to the City of Montreal. The interiors were gutted and transformed to non-descript office space, and the building was renamed Édifice Jacques-Viger. Much of the Viger Gardens was destroyed in the 1970s to allow for the construction of the Autoroute Ville-Marie highway, and the remainder of the gardens was transformed into a little-travelled public square (named "Viger Square"), with much-criticized concrete landscaping by artist Charles Daudelin. For decades, Place Viger sat isolated and neglected, a striking historic building surrounded by concrete and a highway.
In 2003, the Commission scolaire de Montréal, the City of Montreal and the Quebec provincial government announced that Place Viger would house a new École des métiers du tourisme (a school of tourism). In 2004, the Borough of Ville-Marie announced that it would restore what remains of the nearby public gardens, by replacing much of the concrete in Viger Square with trees, paths and other soft landscaping.
Place Viger was sold in 2005 to a developer who intended to convert the building to apartments. The property was sold again in 2012, with the conversion to include retail and office space.
- Chisholm, Barbara, ed. (2001). Castles of the North: Canada's grand hotels. Toronto: Lynx Images. ISBN 978-1-894073-14-1. OCLC 45190818.
- Gournay, Isabelle; Vanlaethem, France, eds. (1998). Montreal metropolis, 1880-1930. Toronto: Canadian Centre for Architecture, Stoddart. ISBN 978-0-7737-5974-9. OCLC 47971401.
- Commission scolaire de Montréal - Le château du tourisme (French)
- 1908 article from Quebec national archives announcing construction of annex (French)
- Interior view of Place Viger, May 2007
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