Montreal

REM names 25 of 26 stations, but mum's the word on Griffintown

To mark the anniversary of Landry’s November 2018 death, Mayor Valérie Plante announced last fall that the city was pushing for his name be memorialized as a station in Griffintown. That sparked a petition that garnered thousands of signatures.

Irish heritage advocate says 'we're hoping it's something positive' but question the delay

Panama station's name was decided in 2016 and hasn't changed since. Others have changed since then, but only one remains nameless. (REM)

All but one of Montreal's light-rail network stations has an official name, but the whereabouts and name of the most controversial station remain under wraps.

"The exact location and final name of the Peel Basin, located in Griffintown, will be announced at a later date in collaboration with the City of Montreal," said Thursday's announcement by the Réseau express métropolitain (REM).

That nameless station is causing a stir in the Irish community, as Montreal's mayor, Valérie Plante, has proposed it be christened in honour of former Quebec premier Bernard Landry, who died in November 2018.

After Plante's announcement, outraged Irish heritage activists started a petition that garnered thousands of signatures, demanding the station be named for the Irish working-class neighbourhood that stood there for 150 years.

"We really don't know what it means that they named basically every other station except the one in Griffintown which is, of course, the one that we don't want named after Bernard Landry," said Fergus Keyes, an Irish community activist.

"We're hoping it's something positive — that they will come out, both the mayor and REM, and they will announce they will not be naming it after Mr. Landry."

The information is vague, he said, and he has not heard recently from Montreal or the REM regarding the decision.

The tracks and station will both be in the vicinity of the mass gravesite of an estimated 6,000 Irish immigrants who died from typhus soon after arriving in Montreal in 1847 during the Great Famine. Keyes and his group have been working for years to have the site turned into a memorial park for the victims.

Keyes said his group has agreed that naming the new station Griffintown, after the neighbourhood it is in, would be in keeping with how other stations have been named, such as Île-Bigras, Île-des-Sœurs and Pierrefonds-Roxboro.

Fergus Keyes has been co-leading a push for a memorial park near the Black Rock site for a decade. ( Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

But when it comes to Griffintown, the City of Montreal told CBC to ask the REM, and the REM isn't answering any further questions about the station's name.

The REM appears to have only named one station after a person: Marie-Curie station will be in an industrial sector of the Saint-Laurent borough known as Technoparc Montréal.

This is intended as "a nod to the scientific research park in this sector," the REM said in a news release. The station is located close to Marie‑Curie Avenue."

The REM says it's relying on some guiding principles for naming stations that apply to the greater Montreal area. For example, the Metro stations are named after streets, and commuter stations are named after the neighbourhoods they serve.

The REM has been basing its decisions on circumstances such as existing stations, bus terminals, streets and municipalities. 

This photo of the Irish Commemorative Stone was taken by amateur photographer Alfred Walter Roper in 1898. (McCord Museum)

To avoid confusion, it's also avoided duplicating other station names: for example, L'Anse-à-l'Orme station in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is so named to avoid confusion with Vaudreuil-Hudson train line's Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue station on the West Island.

So if the REM follows its own guidelines, Keyes said, it won't name the Griffintown station after the former premier.

"If they do continue to decide that they will name it after Mr. Landry, obviously we have no intention of giving up the battle," he said.

The 25 confirmed station names are as follows:

  • Deux-Montagnes.
  • Grand-Moulin.
  • Sainte-Dorothée.
  • Île-Bigras.
  • Pierrefonds–Roxboro.
  • Sunnybrooke.
  • Bois-Franc.
  • Du Ruisseau.
  • Montpellier.
  • Côte-de-Liesse.
  • Ville-de-Mont-Royal.
  • Canora.
  • Édouard-Montpetit.
  • McGill.
  • Central Station.
  • Île-des-Sœurs.
  • Panama.
  • Du Quartier.
  • Brossard.
  • Des Sources.
  • Fairview–Pointe-Claire.
  • Kirkland.
  • L'Anse-à-l'Orme.
  • Marie-Curie.
  • YUL–Montréal–Trudeau Airport.

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