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- Multiple media
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5 compact cassettes
1 audio reel
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The Montreal neighbourhood known as Overdale was bounded by the following streets: Overdale on the south, René Lévesque on the north, Mackay on the west, and Lucien L’Allier on the east. In 1987, 77 persons who rented living quarters in the area were threatened with eviction as a developer had bought the properties and wanted to build a 650-unit condominium. Estimated to cost $100 million, the development was to have twin 39-storey towers. The developer made a deal with the City of Montreal that would compensate him for relocating the residents. The developer would provide low-cost housing in a new building a few blocks away named Underdale. A press release from the City’s executive committee has the headline A Montreal Precedent: Developer Commits Himself to Rebuilding Low Rental Housing to Ensure Construction of an Important Real Estate Project.
Only after the deal was made did the City inform the affected residents. Some, mostly roomers, accepted the deal of a small cash settlement and relocation to Underdale. The majority wanted their homes integrated into the developer’s plan rather than have them demolished. The majority of City councillors and the executive committee were in favour of demolishing several buildings. A minority of City Council members were on the side of residents who wished to stay in their homes. Various tenants’ rights and heritage and neighbourhood preservation groups were formed, including the Overdale Housing Cooperative, the Overdale Tenants’ Association, Friends of Overdale, Les Amis d’Overdale-Lafontaine, and Save Overdale.
Residents used what were termed guerilla tactics in an effort to force the promoter and the city to change their plans. On several occasions residents and sympathizers were arrested for trying to prevent their eviction and the demolition of their homes. In March and June of 1988 the police riot squad showed up to evict the tenants who had still not left their homes. The buildings were emptied. Some were demolished and others boarded up. One of the houses affected, though not demolished, was the residence of Sir Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, prime minister of pre-confederation Canada 1848-1851, considered one of the fathers of responsible government in Canada and one of those who assured that French would be an official language of Canada.
As of 2003, the Lafontaine house still stands, boarded up, and a parking lot operates where the demolished buildings had been located.
Scope and content
The collection documents the events which occurred in 1987 and 1988 in the Overdale neighbourhood. It witnesses to the efforts made not only by the local residents but also architects, planners, and others to influence the City of Montreal to avoid demolishing historic buildings and established neighborhoods, and to preserve the city’s built heritage.
The collection includes photographs, moving images, sound recordings, press releases, clippings, meeting notices, correspondence, reports, newsletters and statements on the Overdale resistance prepared by former residents.