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Gallery Square Chalet

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By: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca

The building located at 128 Murray Street sits on an area that was originally called Gallery Square,which, according to a map of 1912 by Charles Edward Goad, a civil engineer, was bordered between Wellington, McCord and St-Léon in Griffintown.

Gallery Square Chalet - 1956   (Arch. Ville de Montréal)
Gallery Square Chalet – 1956 (Arch. Ville de Montréal)

The square was named for Irish immigrant Daniel Gallery, a municipal councillor who represented the district from 1898 to 1906.

The Crash of 1929 signaled the beginning of the Great Depression. Industries came almost to a halt, leaving workers without an income to provide for their families. In the 1930s there were no benefits for the unemployed, and social security did not exist.

In order to meet the needs of the tens of thousands of unemployed people, in the early 1930s, an unemployment commission was set up at the request of popular Montreal Mayor Camillien Houde, who then instituted a large number of “make-work” projects.

Chalet on 128 Murray St. - 2016  (Formerly Gallery Square Chalet)     Photo: Dick Nieuwendyk
Chalet on 128 Murray St. – 2016 (Formerly Gallery Square Chalet) Photo: Dick Nieuwendyk

Passages were built under railway tracks, as were pedestrian tunnels, the Botanical Garden, markets, a chalet at the Mount Royal lookout, sewers and side walks, public baths, and vespasiennes (public urinals).

Construction of the Wellington Tunnel as a passage underneath the Lachine Canal in the 1930s resulted in the reconfiguration of several roads, and reducing the area of the square significantly.

Art-Deco bas-relief motifs
Art-Deco bas-relief motifs

In 1932, on what remained of Gallery Square, the Chalet was built to provide toilets and bathing facilities for local residents who lacked sanitation facilities in their homes.

The chalet was built in 1932 by architect David Jerome Spence in the Art-Deco style. It is unique because of the quality of the materials used, and the decorative bas-relief motifs on all four sides, including the Coat of Arms of Montreal located on the front of the building.

Source: Griffintown Tour / Studio Pluche / Ville de Montréal

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