Historic stone wall on Hôtel-Dieu site demolished without permission, says city

The Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) did not have permission from the provincial Culture Ministry to tear down the 157-year-old wall.

157-year-old wall was crumbling, ruled a danger to pedestrians by CHUM

The wall was demolished in September 2017. (CBC)

The City of Montreal is asking the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) to rebuild – at its own expense – a portion of a historic, 157-year-old wall that was demolished without proper permission last fall.

The city said the demolition was done without authorization from the Ministry of Culture and Communications, which contravenes article 201 of Quebec's Cultural Heritage Act.

The wall, located between two parking lots on the Hôtel-Dieu site between Parc Avenue and Saint-Urbain Street, was torn down Sept. 16, 2017. 

The portion of the wall that was destroyed can be seen here in red. (Google)

Though the city said it did not authorize the demolition, the CHUM maintains that the city knew as early as May 2017 that it would take place.

The hospital added that since the city owns the property, it was the City of Montreal's responsibility to obtain the necessary authorization from the Ministry of Culture.

The wall was 47 metres long and almost five metres high. 

The hospital said it took down the wall because it showed signs of weakening.

"It was a safety issue for CHUM patients and visitors. We could not wait," said Frank Pigeon, director of technical services at the hospital.

He added that rebuilding the wall in the original style will be a challenge, as the original stones weren't preserved.

"They were crumbling as we pulled them out," Pigeon said.

The city has asked the CHUM to rebuild at its expense the portion of the demolished wall, which could be difficult since the original stones were not preserved. (CHUM)

Heritage advocates criticized the move, saying that it should have gone through the proper channels.

"There is a complete lack of respect for the identity of this property," said Robert Turgeon, the general director of Heritage Montreal

"We talk about the beginnings of the French presence in North America with the Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal," he said.

"This goes against the protection and enhancement of heritage," added Christine Gosselin, the member of the city's executive committee responsible for heritage and culture.

With files from Radio-Canada's Laurent Therrien