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Canadian Historical Museum – Then and Now Montreal

By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca

Canadian Historical Museum – The Canadian Historical Museum was a wax museum devoted entirely to Catholic historical figures, founded by Albert Louis Edmond Chartier, a sculptor from the Grévin Museum in Paris. and Robert Tancrède, a French architect and painter.

The Canadian Historical Museum building was designed by Montreal architect Paul M. Lemieux, who also designed the Atwater Market, in partnership with his father, Ludger Lemieux. The Canadian Historical Museum, built in the Art-Deco style opened in 1935. Bas-relief sculptures of the evangelists adorn the building’s exterior and several display cases, showing black and white photos, lined the walkway up to the semi-circular entrance.

Canadian Historical Museum – 1937 Photo: Harry Sutcliffe

The wax museum featured 24 historic and modern-day scenes. Over 200 full scale wax figures were part of life like historic scenes such as the arrival in Canada of Jacques Cartier and his encounter with the Amerindians, and of complete religious dioramas featuring figures from the early days of the Christian church. Most of the wax figures were created by Albert Chartier.

Pharmaprix (former Canadian Historical Museum) – 2016 Photo: Dick Nieuwendyk
Canadian Historical Museum – 1967

Because of scenes like Mary and Joseph’s flight into Egypt, the stunning likeness of Christian martyrs and other religious figures the museum attracted religious bus tours, operated mostly by open-topped sightseeing buses of the Murray Hill Limousine Company.

Albert Chartier in his workshop – 1936

The Canadian Historical Museum was the first of its kind in North America and the third in the world after Madame Tussaud in London and the Grévin Museum in Paris. It attracted more than ten million visitors before it closed in 1989. The 200 wax figures were purchased by the Musée de la Civilisation in Quebec City.

Today the building is home to a pharmacy.

The building is located at 3715 Queen Mary Road / corner Côte-des-Neiges Rd.

Source: SRC: Archive Radio-Canada / Memorable Montreal

To see the article in the Montreal Times 22.62 April 29, 2017 edition please click on the above image
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