Old Montreal | The future of the iconic Barracks #1 under the magnifying glass

Montreal ponders the future of Barracks NoOh 1, this emblematic building has been vacant since the Center d’Histoire de Montréal moved a few years ago. If the city confirms it has received “several expressions of interest” for the listed building, voices are already being raised about making it residential or even incorporating it into the nearby Pointe-à-Callière museum.

Posted yesterday at 5:00am

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

Henri Ouellette-Vezina
The press

“We have received several expressions of interest for the barracksOh 1 is located at 335 Rue Saint-Pierre in Old Montreal. Thoughts on the form of the project have started internally, but it’s too early to say more,” confirms a spokeswoman for the city of Montreal, Camille Bégin.

The administration says that they will “announce” their decision in this regard “in good time” in the next few weeks or even the next few months.

In 2018, the Center d’histoire de Montréal, which for years was housed in the former landmark Place D’Youville, moved to Square Saint-Laurent in the heart of downtown. Since then, the building has stood empty, although storage is still taking place there.

Well there you have it, this building cannot be trusted to anyone, and not just in any way. Designed by architects Joseph Perreault and Simon Lesage around the turn of the centuryand Century, “it is located in the heritage-listed Old Montreal and is under the protection of heritage law ‘ recalls M.me Begin.

A “museum campus”

Héritage Montréal political director Dinu Bumbaru confirms that “logic dictates that we somehow connect the barracks to the Pointe-à-Callière museum to make it a kind of campus museum. “It would make a pretty interesting cultural overview,” he says.

“The certainty is that instead of getting rid of this emblematic and urban building and then having to build something else, it is imperative to use what is already there. Let’s not give up old buildings like this,” urges Mr. Bumbaru, whose group has made monument preservation a priority in the metropolis for decades.

It is a key sector where there are many architectural and historical elements, including the D’Youville stables and the Saint-Pierre street warehouses. The reflection must therefore be very comprehensive.

Dinu Bumbaru, Policy Director at Heritage Montreal

Accompanied by The press, the communications director of the Pointe-à-Callière museum, Marie-Josée Robitaille, confirms that her group has submitted a request to the city of Montreal to occupy the barracks in recent weeks. “We have indeed expressed our interest in this historic gem. Our request seems to be progressing well. We already have a partnership with the Montreal Fire Department (SIM) so if the city agrees to our requests we will do business with them to showcase the heritage appropriately. Our goal would be to turn it into a preschool museum for toddlers. But we’re not there yet,” she continues.

If the project goes ahead, the Pointe-à-Callière Museum even aims to “connect the barracks underground to its archaeological site”, located in an outdoor car park between the building and McGill Street at Place D’ Youville. Thousands of artifacts have been found on the site in recent years, and the museum is looking for a way to better “showcase” them.


David Wachsmuth, a professor of urban planning at McGill University, mentions the possibility of building apartments in the old post office.

“In view of the crisis of affordable housing, the first question should be: can we build apartments while preserving the building fabric? Of course, it would involve considerable costs and many questions, but I think that’s where we have to start,” says the expert.

“We have to at least look into this possibility, especially since we know that the city has been saying for some time that there should be more living space in the Old Port. So far, the city has succeeded in creating this much more distinctive residential dimension,” says Wachsmuth.

The latter also claims in turn that the location of the barracks nOh 1 is “unique”. “I’ve often said in the past that together we should be a little more inclined to let go of old buildings, because that’s how cities grow. But in this case it’s really a unique situation. We do not want the emblematic building to stand empty, but at the same time it is very respectful of its history,” concludes the professor.

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