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Lot 1780, Peel Street Collection (C640)

1863-1930. - 1 cm of textual records (20 documents).

Administrative History - Biographical Sketch:

Lot 1780, Peel Street, is located in the neighbourhood that used to be known as the "Golden Square Mile." In a deed of sale from 1930 it is described as follows: "A piece of real property located in the St. George neighbourhood, in the City of Montreal, facing onto Peel Street, denoted under the number one thousand seven hundred and eighty, on the official plans and book of reference of the St. Antoine District, of the City of Montreal. Being twenty-six feet wide by one hundred thirty feet deep, English measure, more or less. With the erected buildings upon it bearing the street number 3417 Peel Street, the northwest gable wall of which and the northwest wall of the stable and of the fence on the northwest side dividing the property from the adjacent property are party walls. With right of ingress and egress at all times in the laneway behind the Prince of Wales Terrace [...]." An 1881 plan shows the house and nine other residences, all adjacent to one another, built on Peel a few dozen metres north of Sherbrooke Street. The house from that time still stands on the property today and still has the street number 3417.

One of the owners of the property was Sir George Simpson (1786?-1860), Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company in Canada (1821-1856). Simpson seems to have owned most of the lots in the block bounded by Sherbrooke Street to the south, Peel Street to the west and McTavish Street to the east. In actual fact, Simpson owned a third of the shares in these lots; the two other investors were Edward Martin Hopkins and Duncan Finlayson (two other Hudson's Bay Company employees). Yet it was George Simpson who had the Prince of Wales Terrace built in 1860, on the occasion of the Prince's visit to Canada (notably to inaugurate Victoria Bridge). The Terrace, located on the north side of Sherbrooke Street, between McTavish and Peel streets, consisted of nine adjacent homes. It was demolished by McGill University to make room for the Samuel Bronfman building. Lot 1780 was situated just behind this building, on the far side of a laneway. The other owners of lot 1780, Peel Street, were Ferdinand David, a businessman; Harrison Stephens, a merchant; Romeo Stephens, an insurance agent; Dame Eliza Caldwell, wife of John McGillis, a lawyer; Charles Henry Gould, a bookseller; Mimi Donner Baumgarten, wife of Henry Maurice Scott, an electrical engineer; the firm Gage Investments Inc. and the estate of the Honourable Joseph Masson (1791-1847). Masson was a businessman, militia officer, seigneur, politician and judge. He is thought to have been one of the first French-Canadian millionaires.

Scope and Content:

This collection concerns a piece of property on Peel Street in Montreal (lot 1780), just north of Sherbrooke Street West, and its various owners. It contains 20 legal documents regarding the property and the people who lived there between the last third of the 19th century and the 1930s. Included in the collection are deeds of sale, transfers, gift deeds, a will and codicil, declarations, search certificates and ratifications.

The successive owners of lot 1780 Peel Street were Sir George Simpson (Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company), Edward M. Hopkins (likewise an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company), Ferdinand David (businessman), Harrison Stephens (merchant), Romeo Stephens (insurance agent), Dame Eliza Caldwell (wife of John McGillis, lawyer), Charles Henry Gould (bookseller), Mimi Donner Baumgarten (wife of Henry Maurice Scott, electrical engineer), Gage Investments Inc. and the estate of the Honourable Joseph Masson.

The documents that make up the collection provide information not only about the buildings on the property, but also about the lives of the successive owners (especially thanks to the will of Eliza Caldwell-McGillis) and real estate transactions at the time and the changes in the price at which the lot sold.