Joseph Venne: From Neighbourhood Son to Montreal Builder
- Born on Montcalm Street, Montreal, in 1858 – Died in Montreal in 1925
Architect Joseph Venne was born on Montcalm Street, near Ontario Street, in 1858 and lived in the neighbourhood all his life. This son of a construction worker was involved in the construction of many buildings in Quebec and Canada, and even in New England. Many of his works are located in the Centre-Sud and its surrounding area, including the Sacré-Coeur-de-Jésus Church and its presbytery. In 1908, Venne built the first fireproof school in Saint-Jacques: the De Salaberry School (now the Comité social Centre-Sud [Centre-Sud Social Committee]). The public square facing the Gédéon-Ouimet School, which also was designed by the architect, now bears his name.
Former CCCL and CNTU Central Council: A Long History in the Centre-Sud
- Location: 1601 De Lorimier Avenue
Following the industrial revolution, the rise of the working class heralded the birth of trade unions, where workers could join together to defend their rights. The Centre-Sud witnessed this phenomenon first hand. Created in 1921, the Canadian Catholic Confederation of Labour (CCCL) moved into the neighbourhood. Changing its name to the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CNTU) during the Quiet Revolution, the organization is still active in the Centre-Sud, where its head office is located.
Camillien Houde: A Remarkable Figure
- Born in 1889, died in 1958
Nicknamed “le p’tit gars de Sainte-Marie” (the Little Guy of Sainte-Marie), Camillien Houde served several terms as Mayor of Montreal between 1928 and 1954. He also represented the Sainte-Marie district at the provincial level for three terms. Speaking on behalf of workers, his career was also marked by his imprisonment during the Second World War, when he took a stand against conscription. His flamboyance and his major urban projects left their mark on several generations, so much so that he was nicknamed “Monsieur Montréal” (Mr. Montreal).
Café Coop Touski: An Inspiring Initiative
- Location: 2361 Ontario Street East / 2375 St. Catherine Street East
Founded in 2003 on Ontario Street, Café Touski emerged in response to local residents’ desire to open a healthy, family-friendly restaurant that would also serve as a venue. In 2018, this self-managed worker cooperative was forced to move. Backed by the local community, Le Touski acquired its own space on Sainte-Catherine Street East, just a few blocks from its original site. Operating in a difficult financial climate, the organization was hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and was forced to close its doors in May 2020, after 17 years in business. For many, Café Touski was a most inspiring community experience and a reflection of the alternative and militant cultures of the Centre-Sud.
Centre-Sud Social Committee: A Pioneering Organization
- Location: 1710 Beaudry Street
The Centre-Sud Social Committee (CSSC) was founded as a direct result of the neighbourhood’s civil strife in the 1970s. Faced with health, safety and housing issues, residents rallied to create citizens’ committees and then community centres. Located in the former De Salaberry School, it is one of the main centres d’éducation populaire (CEP) (public education centres) in the area. Its long-standing existence attests to its deep-rooted presence and relevance in the community.
J. O. Marchand: A Magnificent and Prolific Architect
- Born in 1872, died in 1936
J. O. Marchand was born and studied in Montreal before continuing his architectural training at the École des Beaux-Arts de Paris. He thus became the first French Canadian architect to graduate from this prestigious institution. Upon his return to Canada in 1902, he enjoyed a prolific career. Among his major achievements were the Bordeaux prison, the Mother House of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame, and the former Juvenile Court, which has since become the National Theatre School of Canada. In the Centre-Sud region, his outstanding works include the Généreux Bathhouse, as well as the Garneau and Gabriel-Souart Schools.