Second Street Grid of Montreal

In 1685, Montreal is again in war with the Iroquois. Military authorities wish to protect the town against possible attacks, so they want to take stock of the defences of the settlement.

They raise a proposal to build a palisade around the entire town, as aside from fortified outlying buildings, nothing protected the town, and even powder was stored above the chapel Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours. In November 1685, Governor Brisay de Denonville of Montreal sends a map of Montreal to France.

As far as we can judge, this is the second plan of the town. In 13 years since the first plan of Montreal was drawn, the fort on the point had disappeared.

The fortified mill on the summit of the small hill at the eastern end is clearly seen, as well as the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours chapel, inaugurated in 1675. Some of the surrounding waterways are illustrated for the first time since Champlain’s era. However, the 1685 plan does not present an accurate picture of the rural environment and when Governor Denonville sent the map to France, he apologized for its poor quality.

The plan is frequently attributed to engineer Robert de Villeneuve, but most historians are sure that he would certainly have produced a better representation of the town, so officially the second plan of Montreal remains anonymous. Anyway, the historic value of the map is enormous as this is the only document presenting the future great city.

The second plan of Montreal is preserved by Centre d’Archives d’outre-mer of Aix-en-Province, national archives of France.

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