Hidden treasures: A stoneware jug, St. Anne's market and pre-confederation parliament

For Montreal's 375th anniversary, we're showing you rarely seen gems that tell the story of the city. Here, we see a stoneware jug from Montreal's first covered market, which also holds a political history as a pre-confederation Canada's parliament building.

Discover some rarely seen gems from the city's past for Montreal's 375th anniversary

Pointe-à-Callière Museum curator Louise Pothier shows off the stoneware jug once used by a merchant who had a stall outside of St. Anne's market. (CBC)

To mark Montreal's 375th anniversary, curators from Montreal museums show us some of their favourite items hidden in their archives. This is the latest installment in an ongoing series.

St. Anne's market, which opened in the 1830s, is recognized as the first indoor market in the city.

But the building also played another important role as the home of the first permanent parliament of the United Province of Canada, when Montreal was the capital from 1843 to 1849.

The Pointe-à-Callière Museum has, among its collections, a stoneware jug which dates back to the market's days.

The museum is in the middle of archaeological research on the market with the plan to open the site to the public.

A drawing of St. Anne's market published in the magazine L'Opinion publique in 1880 shows just how popular a place it was. (Pointe-à-Callière Museum)
"When you walked inside St. Anne's market, you see something that is very close to the modern markets today," said Louise Pothier, the museum's curator.

"Outside, you had the different stalls, the butcher's, different type of meats they sell. And inside, on the first level, you had dry goods or fruits and vegetables."

A large room inside the building served as a civic hall.

"The civic function was as important as the commercial function," said Pothier.

"This is quite new for the markets and St. Anne's market inaugurated that civic market in Montreal."

Pre-confederation parliament building

Part of the collector sewer under what was once St. Anne's market will be opened to the public in May 2017. (Pointe-à-Callière Museum/Andrew Émond)

After being renovated, St. Anne's market became the first permanent parliament of pre-confederation Canada.

Key pieces of the country's early legislation were adopted in the building, including the act establishing "responsible government."

But the building didn't last long in that capacity.

After the parliament enacted the Rebellion Losses Bill, which gave compensation to Lower Canadians who lost property during two uprisings in the late 1830s, an angry mob descended on the building.

With the politicians still inside, the mob vandalized the building, breaking windows and damaging the interior.

The politicians managed to escape but a fire broke out and burned the building to the ground.

Collector sewer to open for 375th

Part of the reason for the market's location was due to the Little Saint-Pierre River, acting as a port for boats and canoes going to and from the St. Lawrence.

The city eventually had a sewer built to bring part of that river underground.

For the city's 375th, Pointe-à-Callière will open up 100 metres of the collector sewer to the public.

More in this series: