Dorval Museum of Local History and Heritage
by: Dick Nieuwendyk – mtltimes.ca
The stables of the Forest and Stream Club were originally part of a summer estate, built between 1872 and 1874 for Alfred Brown, the Chairman of the Grand Trunk Railway, and a director of the Bank of Montreal. According to plans of architects John William Hopkins and Daniel Wily, a magnificent three-story Scottish Revival style stone mansion was built surrounded by large, treed lawns, with a lodge keeper’s house on the east side, and a coach house with stables on the west side of the property. Mr. Brown called his home “Bel-Air”. The coach house had tree stalls for horses, a storage room and a maintenance area for wagons. On the upper floor was the apartment of the stable hand and an area where grain for the horses was stored.
After Alfred Brown’s death in 1886, the property was sold to Frank Stephen, who in 1884 formed a private club, with his summer home in Bois-Franc as its first clubhouse. The club was named the “Forest and Stream Club”, with members such as: Abbott, Molson, Van Horne, Allan, Angus, Dawes, Dow, Forget, Holt, and Girouard, to name a few. In 1888, the club moved from Bois-Franc to Dorval, and purchased Bel-Air as its clubhouse. Members liked the new location near Lake St. Louis, and the short distance to the train station. The Montreal Hunt Club, the oldest fox hunting club in North America, would meet regularly at the Forest and Stream Club. The men, their horses and foxhounds would board rail cars and travelled from Montreal to Dorval for a day of riding and hunting. One of its members, Andrew Allan, ship owner and brother of Sir Hugh Allan, was “Master of Foxhounds” for the Montreal Hunt Club and frequently organized steeplechases at the Bel-Air Jockey Club, a half-mile race track on land where
Montreal’s Trudeau Airport is located today. In 2000, the City of Dorval bought the old stables. After renovations and the addition of an atrium facing Lake St. Louis, the building was re-opened in 2002 as the Dorval Museum of Local History and Heritage, presenting temporary and permanent exhibitions recounting the social and economic history of the City of Dorval, from its colonization up to our time. The Museum is divided into four sections: the former stalls, the Hall of Fame featuring important people in the history of Dorval, the atrium with its unparalleled view of Lake St. Louis and the upstairs where you will discover a variety of objects acquired from generous donors, from a magic lantern to a yoke for oxen.
The Dorval Museum is located at 1850 Lakeshore Drive in Dorval.
Source: Dorval Historical Society / City of Dorval / Forest and Stream Club / Patrimoine Ville de Montreal