Petition calls for future REM station in Montreal's southwest to be named after Irish community

A petition is calling for a planned light-rail station near the Peel Basin to be named Station des Irlandais, or Irish Station, to acknowledge the contributions of the area's Irish community.

Station des Irlandais would commemorate the Irish community's contributions to the city, petitioners say

man on bench
Fergus Keyes, one of the petition organizers, says the Irish community's contribution to Montreal goes back centuries. (Kate McKenna/CBC News)

A petition is calling for a new transit station near Montreal's Peel Basin to be named Station des Irlandais, or Irish Station, to commemorate the area's Irish community.

Fergus Keyes, one of the petition organizers, says the Irish have made enormous contributions to Montreal — especially in the southwest.

Naming the station after the community would be a nice way to remember that, he told CBC News.

"In almost every facet of Montreal, where something has happened, there has been some Irish involvement," Keyes said.

Construction has started on new LRT network

Construction began in April on Montreal's new $6.3-billion, light-rail network (REM). Thirty to 40 per cent of the project is set to be completed by summer 2021.

The station in the city's southwest would be part of that planned network.

The group that manages the REM project did not respond to CBC News' request for comment on the petition.

Keyes said he plans to deliver it in a few weeks. So far, it's garnered about 200 signatures.

"We're not sure what the LTR reaction will be to this because we're not sure how they intend to name stations," he said.

Longstanding contributions to the city

In the meantime, Keyes stressed the important role Montreal's Irish community played in the city's development.

Many Irish families lived in the southwest in the 1800s and for most of the 1900s, he said.

Irish labourers also helped build the Lachine Canal and the Victoria Bridge.

Black Rock, a monument at the foot of the bridge, was erected by Irish workers in 1859 to honour the 6,000 Irish famine refugees who died of typhus in 1847 and were buried there in a mass grave.

Photographer William Notman took this photograph of the laying of the Irish Commemorative Stone on Dec. 1, 1859. (McCord Museum)

With files from Kate McKenna, Laura Marchand and Loreen Pindera