Some families are so deeply rooted in their living environment that they profoundly change the course of history. In this article, we reflected on the families who chose to build their legacy in Old Montreal – a legacy that remains thriving to this very day in the district. One family in particular stands out: the Viger family. Today, they lend their name to many landmarks including Viger Square and the Gare Viger.
Below you will find a brief presentation of three Viger family members, born in Montréal, who left their mark on the history and heritage of our beautiful city.
First stop: the splendid Bonsecours Street and, more precisely, 415, Bonsecours Street. Today, this address refers to the restaurant-auberge Pierre du Calvet, a three-storey building which was formerly home to the first of the Vigers: lawyer and politician Louis-Michel Viger. It is believed that construction of this building started in 1765, but it is well known that the renovations which stand tall to this very day were the product of Louis-Michel Viger’s vision. You’ll notice the archway which served as a carriage entrance for horses on their way to feast on hay in the stables.
Then, we can head over to the Place Royale, where we can find a nice example of a house-cum-store, the second place of residence of a Viger family member. This establishment was built for Denis-Benjamin Viger, and is located at the corner of Saint-Paul Street and Place-Royale Street. We can recognize many architectural components that are truly typical of this type of building. It also boasts large windows on the ground floor which bring a cascade of natural light into the boutique, and has a lovely curved facade.
Finally, even though very little is known about the home in which Jacques Viger, Montréal’s first mayor elected in 1833, lived, he left us an important legacy which bears recognition. This legacy features the city’s former coat of arms and the motto: Concordia Salus (Salvation through Harmony.) Viger’s influence was indeed monumental.
Nouvelles armoiries ©Ville de Montréal
The Viger family is one of the many families which truly influenced the city’s history. Every year, Héritage Montréal presents families from our great city during their Ateliers famille, an urban exploration activity designed for children aged 6 to 10.