St-Helen’s Island Heritage Site
In the 19th century, Montreal served as a distribution hub for war equipment, weapons and munitions for the military. Built by the English between 1820 and 1824 for British troops in North America, the military complex on St. Helen’s Island is an eloquent statement to this era. The fortifications are comprised of a number of buildings including:
• Arsenal: This main building stored all of the military materials supplied to British troops West of Quebec City. The stone building is now home to the Stewart Museum.
• Workshops: Smithing and repair work was carried out in this wooden structure, which also served as a warehouse. It was demolished in the late 1920s.
• Guardhouse: This wooden building served as a lookout for the road leading to the military jetty.
• Small powder magazine: With a 1,500 barrel capacity, the small powder magazine was restored in the early 2000s. The work included the renovation of its lightening rod.
• Barracks: This imposing three-storey stone building was partly destroyed by fire in 1875. Only the vaults that housed the kitchens still stand.
RENOVATIONS OF THE ARSENAL AT THE MILITARY DEPOT ON ST. HELEN’S ISLAND
Having closed its doors for more than two years to enable a major renovation of the building, the Stewart Museum now offers a venue better adapted to its needs and those of its clientele. The almost $7 million project ushered in a complete review of the functional and technical program at the arsenal of the military depot on St. Helen’s Island.
The project was led by the Société du parc Jean-Drapeau, the site owner, which worked closely with the Stewart Museum throughout. Montreal architectural firm Faubert Aubertin Brodeur Gauthier (FABG) and engineering company Roche Consulting Group were hired to carry out the project, which began in March 2009.
Positioned in the middle of the building, the four-storey glass and steel tower provides improved access for visitors. It includes a central elevator that opens onto hallways leading to the Museum’s exhibition galleries. A stairway adjacent to the elevator also leads to the galleries as well as to a lookout that affords visitors a view of the entire miitary depot and a panorama of Montreal. And finally, a glass wall and the reflective exterior of the elevator give the entire structure an air of transparency and elegance.
The Stewart Museum is already making news: on May 3, 2011, the Canadian Institute of Steel Construction (CISC) honoured the Roche Group with an Award of Excellence for its achievement as well as recognition for its innovative design.
Since its creation 60 years ago, Stewart Museum history is being revived through new, innovative and entertaining programming. It is in this spirit that the Museum offers to its visitors different guided tours, such as the British military depot. To learn more about our guided tours, please visit our Summer Season program.
For more information, please visit the Québec Government website (in French only)