Brief History of the Cote des Neiges Community and Construction of the Church Building
For a more detailed history of Cote des Neiges neighbourhood please refer to Héritage Montréal’s web page below: Brief History of our Church
Established in 1698 as Côte Notre-Dame-des-Neiges by 37 settlers who had moved to the interior of Montreal Island as hostilities between the Iroqois and the settlers diminished, the settlement soon became known as Côte des Neiges. Until the late 1800s, it remained a settlement of farmsteads and small tanneries. By 1890, land was set aside for residential properties and several hotels and a general store had been built. By the early 1900s, dramatic expansion was taking place with increasing population and commercial activity. Several institutions which still serve the Côte des Neiges district as well as the City of Montreal were founded or moved to larger buildings: Oratoire St. Joseph (1924), Université de Montréal (1924), Maison Mère des Soeurs de Sainte Croix (1928), Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf (1928), Jewish General Hospital (1934), St. Mary’s Hospital (1934), Hôpital Sainte-Justine pour Enfants (1908, 1957).
In 1863, a group of English from Côte des Neiges and Saint Laurent purchased land on Côte St. Catherine Road and built a Union Church to serve Presbyterians and Anglicans equally. The first services were held on May 22nd, 1864, with the Presbyterians worshipping at 11 a.m. and the Anglicans at 4 p.m. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1888 and that same year the Anglicans sold their share in the property to the Presbyterians, who constructed the existing building between 1888 and 1892.
From a predominantly rural, farming community, Côte des Neiges has become an integral part of the City of Montreal with a residential, commercial and institutional mix designed to serve the diverse population that has grown up there and, more recently, arrived there from many parts of the world. Originally predominantly Francophone with a small Anglophone population from England, Ireland and Scotland, the population has been swelled by waves of immigration: Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe, Western Europeans who left during and after the two World Wars, and, more recently, North Africans, Filipinos, Vietnamese, West Indians, West Africans, Lebanese, Sri Lankans, Chinese, and most recently, with the collapse of the former Soviet Union, immigrants from Russia and other former Soviet Bloc countries.
Almost half of the residents of Côte des Neiges who identify themselves as immigrants arrived in Canada after 1991. Thirty percent of families in the area have a yearly income of more than $40,000 and 9.5% have incomes over $80,000 per year. Most live in rental units. Educational levels approach those in other parts of the city, though occupations tend to be lower paid because many of the new immigrants are unable to have their academic achievements in their countries of origin recognized in Canada.
There are many community organizations serving the various ethnic groups as well as those providing emergency help and educational and job-search assistance to all comers. However, inadequate resources in public education, health care and social services make the adaptation to a new culture particularly difficult for immigrants.
There are 15 synagogues and 10 churches (mainline denominational: six Roman Catholic, two Presbyterian, one Baptist, one Anglican) and a number of other congregations such as Church of God, which minister to particular ethnic groups. While there are a number of Jewish and Roman Catholic organizations offering services to the wider community, there appears to be little input from most of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches.
The preaching ministry of our church attracts a cross-section of the district as well as people from a radius of twenty-five to thirty kilometers. Church activities reflect this diversity. Both our morning and evening services have a periodic French component and we have a bilingual Sunday school. Cameroonian, Ghanaian, Filipino and Sri Lankan choirs sing in their own languages to celebrate our common faith.