The Montreal community of Griffintown is a working class neighbourhood situated in the former southwestern downtown part of Montreal. Historically, this area was largely inhabited by Irish immigrants who played a key role in developing the industrial and economic infrastructure that made Montreal an important city for trade and commerce beginning in the 19th century.
The aim of this site is to provide insight into how Griffintown has developed and changed over time. With plans underway to transform this neighbourhood, it is important to document the history of Griffintown. Working class history provides an alternate view of how Montreal developed and what a key role Griffintown and it’s inhabitants played from the 19th century to the mid-20th century. As a virtual exhibit that combines elements of online scholarship, this site features photographs, maps, documents, essays, and other relevant historical information. I chose primary sources from public archives, the library, newspapers, magazines, and from the web. From these sources I scanned images of documents such as maps and photographs, and embedded them into my site along with links to Google Maps, so that visitors to my site can see how Griffintown has changed over time. This virtual exhibit shows historical depictions of the Griffintown as well as links to images that show what the neighbourhood is like now. I felt it was important to primarily use images that I found in books and archives to illustrate the history of Griffintown. I chose to scan and digitize these images, because many of them do not exist on the web and couldn’t be obtained by simply conducing a Google image search.
The section on future developments outlines the ongoing debate between the neighbourhood residents association, the city, and the Devimco development corporation. It remains to be seen who will ultimately shape the proposed urban renewal project. I have also outlined some of the social problems and challenges facing residents of the community.
Additionally, I have chosen to also document specific historical events, such as the building of the Lachine Canal, the murder of Mary Gallagher, and the RAF bomber plane crash of 1944 to emphasize the historical significance of the neighbourhood, as well as the colourful character it has developed over the years. Secondary sources are used to give greater historical context and insight to the primary sources I have posted. They also support the argument that the working class history of Montreal needs to be documented and preserved, especially in light of recent development plans being put forward by the city that will likely transform the neighbourhood without preserving the heritage and culture that developed there from the 19th century onwards.