University St. in downtown Montreal to be renamed after Robert Bourassa

A section of University Street in downtown Montreal will be renamed in honour of former Quebec premier Robert Bourassa.

Long-serving Liberal premier led Quebec for more than a decade

Robert Bourassa, who served two mandates as the premier of Quebec, died in 1996. (Radio-Canada Archives)

A section of University Street in downtown Montreal will be renamed in honour of former Quebec premier Robert Bourassa.

Several blocks of University Street between Sherbrooke and Notre-Dame will be redubbed Robert-Bourassa Boulevard in honour of the long-serving premier.

“I am a fan of Robert Bourassa. I am someone who sees in him a force of nature — who propelled us into modern Quebec ... Within a few weeks then, we will have Robert-Bourassa Boulevard running through the heart of Montreal," said Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.

Bourassa’s relatives gathered at Montreal City Hall Wednesday evening to hear Coderre make the announcement official.

The former Liberal premier left his stamp on Quebec politics, becoming the youngest premier of Quebec in 1970 at the age of 36.

He suffered a humiliating defeat to René Lévesque and his Parti Québécois in 1976, but after fighting for the successful "No" side of the 1980 referendum, Bourassa returned to politics and was elected as premier once again in 1985.

During the course of his two mandates, he served a total of 14 years as premier.

Robert Bourassa died in 1996.

“We can agree or disagree with [Bourassa’s] work, but either way he left a mark on Quebec history,” Coderre said.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said he likes this initiative taken on by the City of Montreal to pay homage to the “great Quebecer.”

“This is someone who has done a lot for the community. I am very pleased that the City of Montreal is giving him his place in the urban landscape,” Couillard said.

In 2006, former mayor Gérald Tremblay wanted to rename Parc Avenue to Robert-Bourassa Avenue, but the idea sparked controversy and was met with fierce opposition from merchants.

The plan was eventually dropped.

“The idea was a good one, but we saw the controversy it stirred, we withdrew because we did not want to create controversy,” said the late premier’s daughter Michelle Bourassa.

Today’s plan to rename a portion of University Street will have to go to the province's toponymy commission, which will handle the details of the name change.


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