Mount Royal, A Territory to Discover

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Smith House

Built in 1858, the Smith House is the last example in Montréal of rural architecture from that period.

This rich farm house, formerly surrounded by outbuildings, belonged to Hosea Ballou Smith, one of the 16 landowners who shared the mountain before the park’s creation. The first formal road on the mountain began here.

Since it was acquired by the city when the park was created, the house has had many uses: a residence for the park keeper, a police and first-aid station, an art centre, and a hunting and nature museum. Since its renovation in 1999, Smith House serves as an interpretation centre and the headquarters of Les Amis de la montagne.


Les amis de la montagne collection





Questions :

(1) The Smith House is the oldest building in Mount Royal Park.

Answer True

(2) The Smith House was the residence of Frederick Law Olmsted.

Answer False

Park Keeper’s house, Mount Royal Park
The Valentine & Sons’ Publishing Co. Ltd.
© Collection Les amis de la montagne

Winter scene behind the mountain, Montreal
Post card
© Collection Les amis de la montagne

Inside the Art Center, Smith House
Sculpture Symposium, 1964
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection

Smith house, Mount Royal park
Photographer: Samuel Montigné
@ Les amis de la montagne's Collection


Picnic at the Smith house, Mount Royal park
Photographer: Samuel Montigné
@ Les amis de la montagne's Collection

Cafe Smith's Terrace, Smith House
Photographer: Samuel Montigné
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection




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The Smith House

Hello, I’m happy I to talk to you. When you came in, did you notice the date engraved on the façade? Eighteen fifty eight…

That makes one hundred and fifty years. One hundred and fifty years of history, encounters, and memories etched into my walls.

Let me show you around. Come in, make yourself comfortable, and imagine…

It all started in eighteen fifty eight, when Mr. Smith, a rich merchant, went looking for a secondary residence in the country. He decided to establish himself—or more accurately, to establish me—on Mount Royal. Me—both majestic and simple. I have fond memories of that era, surrounded by gardens, hosting sumptuous receptions. One day, I even received the Prince of Wales.

But after only fourteen years of existence, I was sold to the City of Montréal. It was for a good cause though: the creation of a park! And I was lucky: I was the only house left standing within the limits of Mount Royal Park.

From eighteen seventy four on, I was home to the park superintendents. Everything was concentrated on work: layout, landscaping, road-building and park maintenance.

And then, time just flew by.

In nineteen forty, I was transformed into a police and first aid station.

Then, to my great surprise, I became the Mount Royal Art Centre. A noble and strange vocation. An exceptional collection of works of art dating from the first international sculpture symposium in North America, held during the summer of nineteen sixty four, still stands on the grounds in front of me.

In nineteen eighty three, I changed vocation again: I became a hunting and nature museum: the Musée universel de la chasse et de la nature. But after five years I was again left empty. It wasn’t until nineteen ninety nine that new residents moved in: Les Amis de la Montagne. And with them, I welcome visitors to the park and proudly keep the memory of their sojourns in my walls. To sum it all up, I have always lived with the mountain. I resonate with the seasons, I live with people, I live in my times, and will continue for a long time to come.