August 2019: Andy Riga has a great piece showing a string of crazy ideas people have suggested for Mount Royal over the last century and a half.

I started this timeline in 2013 when I realized I’d been seeing repeated waves of stories on protecting Mount Royal that seemed to be going nowhere. I added some updates in 2016, and here’s the cumulative timeline, which I will extend as I see relevant items. With thanks to regular reader SMD, who provided some good links, and a few older items added from Marian Scott’s piece in the Gazette March 2018.

1876: After public indignation over woodcutting on the mountain, the area becomes a park with landscaping designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.

1885: A funicular is constructed on the east side of the mountain. It operates till 1918 when it’s declared unsafe and taken down.

1924: Streetcar service begins from the west side to Smith House, followed by a more complete service in 1930 from the Park Avenue side. The trams at that time used a tunnel which is no longer in existence.

1938: Beaver Lake is constructed as part of Camillien Houde’s Depression-era make-work projects around the city.

1958: Voie Camillien-Houde is opened across the mountain, memorializing the mayor who had said they’d build a road over Mount Royal over his dead body. Which they basically did: he died in September 1958.

1962: The Beaver Lake pavilion opens.

1975: June 24, Gilles Vigneault premieres the song “Gens du pays” to a massive crowd assembled for the Fête nationale.

1986: Claude Dupras, who had just taken over as head of the Civic Party, made a solemn promise never to construct anything on Mount Royal (see La Presse from July 26, 1986), but the Civic Party was soundly defeated that November.

February 2003: Quebec gives special status to Mount Royal and surrounding areas.

June 2003: Notre-Dame-des-Neiges’ plan to build a large mausoleum is contested.

December 2003: Marianopolis prepares to move. People are concerned about plans for the school’s old site.

December 2004: Another major mausoleum project is floated by NDN.

February 2005: McGill is given an OK to construct two new buildings on the mountain. No public consultation has taken place.

March 2005: Mount Royal is classed as a heritage site by Quebec, which supposedly will give it “the last word” on the massive mausoleum projects. As you’ll see, the last word was “D’accord!”

May 2005: Les Amis de la montagne express dissatisfaction about the Montreal General’s plan to construct a new building on Cedar. This building plan later becomes a very hot potato. January 2013 retrospective on this story of a dodgy deal gone wrong. [This last link has gone dead, which is too bad.]

August 2005: Giant mausoleum gets go-ahead.

October 2005: Alouettes fans begin to agitate to enlarge Molson Stadium. (Now I wonder who these “fans” were and what was in it for them.)

January 2008: The city comes up with a new plan for the protection of Mount Royal.

April 2008: Blogger Neath comments on one of the public hearings mandated by this protection plan. Also in April, the Montreal General is making more moves towards construction on Cedar.

August 2008: Public consultation has found that the vast majority of Montrealers want Mount Royal preserved as a public benefice. La Presse finds that Notre-Dame-des-Neiges has a dump on the hill behind the UdeM.

October 2008: Montreal General gets permission to do its expansion. The Journal de Montréal goes to the Institut économique de Montréal asking for a list of things to perk the city up, and one of their ideas is to turn Mount Royal over to private hands. (Others include medical tourism, reserving more university spots for high-paying foreigners, and the abolition of rent controls and subsidized housing.)

November 2008: The Sulpicians sell the old Marianopolis site. Despite statements that they want the site to keep an educational purpose, it’s clear this is never going to happen. Also this month, more on the new bike and pedestrian path promised to make the mountain more accessible, and the announcement of an annex to Mount Royal park, 22 hectares of the third summit land that has been used as a dump.

March 2009: Another theme comes in, the fate of 1420 Mont-Royal, the Jésus-Marie convent in Outremont, bought then flipped by the UdeM with a sale to Construction Frank Catania for condo conversion. Coalitions of nearby residents and of professors from the university make attempts to block the sale and conversion, holding that the building should be preserved for educational purposes and that the extra traffic brought by a big condo conversion would be unwelcome.

April 2009: The plan for the protection of Mount Royal is adopted by city council.

September 2009: height limits on buildings (PDF) to preserve the view.

October 2009: people gather on Mount Royal in a peaceful demonstration to show how much they love it.

December 2009: work begins on enlarging Molson Stadium.

March 2010: The Tremblay administration pushes very hard to change the zoning to make the Catania project possible, and succeeds.

May 2010: the initial project for the Marianopolis site is scaled back to a transformation of the existing buildings rather than construction of new ones. Also this month, Remembrance Road is altered and a new piece of art is installed near the Peel Street entrance to the park.

June 2010: Enlarged Molson Stadium opens. Alouettes play first game in the enlarged facility in July.

October 2010: Vélo-Québec objects to part of the bike path over the mountain and asks for it to be removed, saying it’s badly conceived and unsafe.

November 2010: the city announces it would spruce up the lookout in spring 2011.

January 2011: A condo developer plans to demolish what’s left of the Redpath mansion and construct a building that would defy the city’s guidelines for sightlines on Mount Royal. The Museum of Fine Arts has just made plans for a nice view from their church conversion pavilion, and it’s angry that this is about to be blocked.

February 2011: The developers of the Redpath site are not given their zoning exception and the project is stymied.

June 2011: Public consultations on the Montreal General’s construction plans. There are objections.

July 2011: A delay is announced in the start of work for the new 22-hectare third-summit park.

November 2011: The Quebec culture ministry gives the 1420 Mont-Royal condo conversion the nod.

February 2012: The public consultation office asks for finer-grained regulations governing building heights, so’s not to obscure the view of the mountain.

March 2012: major repairs on Beaver Lake are announced to start in June with the first phase of work on the lake basin to wrap up in February 2013. A second phase is also expected.

July 2012: The Montreal General gives up its enlargement plans on Cedar Avenue.

November 2012: Mount Royal gets its own official section on the city website.

December 2012: UdeM cancels the sale of 1420 Mont-Royal to Catania because of the Faubourg Contrecœur scandal and other objections to the deal.

February 2013: announcement that work on the third summit park would begin this June.

July 2015: Luc Ferrandez states that he’d like to see a coherent vision for Mount Royal.

September 2015: After eight years of legal wrangling, the MUHC loses $27 million on the 1750 Cedar Avenue debacle and returns it to its condo promoter owner. Vincent Chiara says he will build the residential tower he planned all along.

January 2016: After 12 years of legal wrangling, UdeM sells the former convent at 1420 Mont‑Royal for an unspecified loss to a second condo builder, Olivier Leclerc, after backing away from the first promoter, Paolo Catania, once his name started coming up a lot at the Charbonneau commission.

May 2016: The developer of the condo project on the old Marianopolis site sues the Sulpicians after he’s forced to scale the project down because the city bowed to public pressure against large developments on the mountainside. (The court case had started six years earlier, see article. In May, Linda Gyulai wrote that the lawyers were making their final arguments. I never saw, and can’t find, any article about the eventual ruling in the case.)

October 2016: Quebec heritage ministry calls public consultations on preserving the site.

April 2017: Les Amis de la montagne begin looking for support to get UNESCO World Heritage status for Mount Royal.

June 2017: Olivier Leclerc, who finally came into possession of 1420 Mont-Royal with the intention of converting the big old convent into condos, goes bust. The building is up for sale again.

October 2017: Cyclist Clément Ouimet is killed on the Camillien-Houde when a driver makes a sudden U‑turn. Elected in November, the Plante administration suggests closing the road to most vehicular traffic, a notion that proves widely unpopular.

January 2018: It’s announced there will be no more skating on Beaver Lake, and only a small artificial rink nearby will still be open. Luc Ferrandez says climate change is to blame for the shrinking number of days on which skating is safe on the lake.

March 2018: It’s announced that no charges will be brought against the driver whose U-turn caused the death of Ouimet.

April 2018: As a pilot project, motor traffic will be banned on the road as of June 2 this year until the end of October. The 11 bus will still cross, as will the 711 which runs weekends until June 17, then seven days a week until August 18.

May 2018: City hall opposition party Ensemble Montreal gets the two major cemeteries on the mountain to register their opposition to closing the road.

June 2018: Many drivers are flouting the closure and some have been ticketed for doing so.

July 2018: The Montreal General announces it’s building a new wing, but in theory it will be inside the existing footprint of the hospital.

August 2018: Mount Royal Cemetery bans cyclists.

August 2018: Andy Riga starts a series about the mountain with a piece on the new park on the UdeM side, notoriously difficult to access. Item plays video. Parts two, three and four of Riga’s series.

October 2018: The pilot project closing the Camillien-Houde to most through traffic comes to an end, and the city begins consultations with the public on what to do next. Many people express displeasure at the closure.

November 2018: Contravening his announcement in January, Luc Ferrandez says he wants to return skating to Beaver Lake.

May 2019: Bowing to the unpopularity of complete closure of the Camillien-Houde, city hall announces various means of calming and controlling traffic on the road rather than blocking it completely. Also this month, Luc Ferrandez abruptly quits politics, after which his role looking after parks and green spaces is taken over by Sylvain Ouellet, city councillor from VSPME.

September 2022: A plan is announced to spiff up Mount Royal to the tune of $60 million over five years to work against erosion and modernize some of the features.