At a post from November 28, 2014, entitled Q & A with Graeme Decarie regarding the history of Cartierville and Ville St. Laurent, Bob Carswell has added the following post.
It’s been wonderful, as a person who grew up on Lavigne Street in Cartierville, to be learning so much about Saraguay that I would not have known, had I not heard stories, starting with a post about Cartierville School, in the past year or two.
Bob Carswell writes:
Saraguay was the rural area of Cartierville. Bob Pare grew up in an old farmhouse that sat at the end of Alliance Avenue overlooking the creek and St. Lawrence “Back River” facing Cats’ Island. Before the estates came to Saraguay, the land was all agricultural and the farms were regularly attended to by local farmers.
In the 1950s there were not a lot of farm fields left in Saraguay and those that were only existed to satisfy the needs of horses, also a dying art of an earlier time. The land in Saraguay went from being covered in trees to open fields to young estates of the rich back to trees and old estates then to a park where trees could no longer be cut down.
Le Bois de Saraguay. Alliance Avenue was the farmer’s driveway from his home down to the Pare’s house and one by one, a cottage industry sprung up there as small lots were sold off in the early 1900s. The tennis court, a fixture in the village opposite the local general store still exists to this day and is there for anyone to use.
I am guessing it was originally constructed by one of the richer estate families for use by their offsprings and located opposite the general store so that after the game ended they could get something to drink and a snack to eat across the street.
The Gas Station, now gone, was built by the Bleau family who operated the general store, the restaurant and had a monopoly in the village. That general store building and tennis court have to be close to a hundred years old because they were old when I first found them in 1950 at the age of about 6.
The sons Gilles and his brother that I once knew grew up and moved to a new gas station operation in Val David in the Laurentians. As time went on the early summer cottages on the streets that led down to the river were either torn down or bought up and replaced by more modern buildings. Even today, a number of them have gone from the ones I remember of a bygone era.
What most historians will remember that the general public will not is that very little remains over time other than memories that are written down by those who remember them. Someone looking at the Bois de Saraguay today, would not remember the days of Gouin as a wagon way or earlier as a trail used by the loggers to return to the head of the lake for the next boom that they would take down the river.
The many old Oak trees along the Gouin Blvd of my youth were planted by the estate owners to create a majestic roadway for their guests who like them were well heeled financially. Seventeen of those trees came down in the 1950s in the storm that hit the north shore, a sign that they too were growing old, perhaps 60 or 70 years old by then.
Once considered Cartierville’s agricultural district, the creation of the Village of Saraguay in 1914 was a change to the area and redefined the village that was for the most part overgrown again and more like a young forest than the cleared lands of an earlier time.
Saraguay only existed for 50 years and became part of Montreal officially in 1964. Very few of the old estates survived, most torn down rather than be left empty. Houses we know were there in the 1950s as new residences have also gone, others having been modernized or changed to suit a changing landscape.
I have often wandered through the village on Google Maps at street level to see the changes and the houses I remember are almost impossible to find as they have all evolved into more modern structures or have been completely replaced.
Life is an interesting journey. I wish mine had been a bit different but we get what we get and just have to deal with it, regardless of the way it turns out. Have a great day.
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An Aug. 4, 2015 mesquartiers.wordpress.com article is entitled: “TOP 15 DES PLUS BEAUX PARCS RIVERAINS À MONTRÉAL!”
An Aug. 8, 2019 CTV Montreal article is entitled: “Montreal plans to create the biggest urban park in the country.”