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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Former Bank of Montreal head office, on St. Jacques.

Saint Jacques Street is a major street in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The street has had two official names: St. James Street in English (never spelled "Saint") after St. James's, London; and its current appellation, rue Saint-Jacques, in French. Both names are sometimes used in English, though Saint-Jacques is the most common for geographical reference. St. James Street is usually used in reference to the street's historic importance as a financial district.

Contents

History

St. James Street

Bonaventure Station in the 1870s.

A main thoroughfare passing through Old Montreal, the street was first opened in 1672. The portion between McGill Street and place Saint Henri was originally called Bonaventure Street (rue Saint-Bonaventure), for which the Bonaventure Station was named. This name has passed down to Place Bonaventure, Bonaventure Expressway, and Bonaventure metro station, despite the disappearance of their original referents.

St. James Street in 1910.

In the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, St. James Street was the centre of Montreal's financial district and where several major insurance, banking, and trust companies built their Canadian head offices. Prior to World War I, Canadian, provincial, and major municipal governments along with important industries such as the railroads, public utility and canal companies obtained most of their capital financing in the United Kingdom or the United States. At the end of the War, St. James Street grew rapidly and although by the 1920s there were stock exchanges in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver, St. James Street's stock brokerage houses and the Montreal Stock Exchange were the most important in all of Canada. At the time of its construction in 1928, the Royal Bank of Canada's new headquarters at 360 St. James Street was the tallest building in the British Empire. The St James St. area was also the head office of the Bank of Montreal, and the informal head office of the Bank of Nova Scotia. It was also home to the major brokerage houses such as Nesbitt, Thomson and Company, Pitfield, MacKay, Ross, Royal Securities Corporation and others.

Some of the companies, past and present, located on St. James Street are:

East of Place d'Armes square, the street was home to two French-Canadian financial institutions, the Banque Canadienne Nationale and the Banque du Peuple.[1]

Decline

A steady erosion of its status as Canada's financial centre began with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, followed by the political uncertainty as a result of the election of the Separatist Parti Québécois provincial government in 1976, all served as a catalyst for financial institutions to locate elsewhere. A number chose to gradually move their official head offices to Toronto, Ontario, while others shifted all future expansion to Toronto or other major Canadian centers. As a result, the St. James Street financial district has all but disappeared.

Recent history

Saint Jacques Street today

During the 1990s, the Montreal Expos baseball club unveiled plans to build a new stadium in downtown Montreal, right off St. Jacques Street, just south of the Bell Centre. When provincial funding for the new building fell through, the Expos did not continue with their plan and sold the property to developers. That stretch of Saint Jacques is now undergoing considerable gentrification.

Today, the stretch of St. Jacques Street between McGill Street and Saint Laurent Boulevard is still notable mostly for its grand Neo-Classical buildings on the part of the street running through the Old Montreal district. These include Bank of Montreal's domed Montreal Main Branch, the former headquarters of Royal Bank of Canada, the Canadian Bank of Commerce, the Molson Bank and the Canada Life Insurance Company. More modern buildings include the Montreal World Trade Centre and the Stock Exchange Tower.

Farther west, St. Jacques Street runs through the residential neighbourhoods of Little Burgundy, Saint-Henri, Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Lachine. Lionel-Groulx and Place-Saint-Henri metro stations are located on St. Jacques in the Sud-Ouest borough; to the west, it gives access to Autoroute 20 in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, where it passes through a largely industrial and large-surface commercial district at the top of the Falaise Saint-Jacques. The McGill University Health Centre superhospital will front Saint-Jacques in NDG.

References

External links

Coordinates: 45°30′21″N 73°33′24″W / 45.50595°N 73.5568°W / 45.50595; -73.5568


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