Montreal or ‘City of Mary’ as it used to be called in earlier years is full of amazing tales to those who live in it and those interested in its history. It is among the largest cities in North America and it’s the largest in the Province of Quebec. Montreal’s history goes way back to when there was virtually no person living in a majority of other cities in Canada. One of the things that make the city stand out is its ‘Lost Rivers’.
In the early maps of the island, experts then included some creeks that one might wonder whether they were worth including in the maps. This was in the early 1800’s when the population of the city was a mere 9,000 people. By 1820, the new maps that were emerging were conspicuously omitting a majority of the creeks. By this time, the city had grown to 18,000. The disappearing creeks can now be concluded were overland streams and rivers which with time went underground.
The lost Rivers
Many of the rivers which existed in the 1800s in the city of Montreal have disappeared. However, a good number of them are well entombed under the now vibrant city. Interestingly, while these rivers can be purported to have disappeared from the face of the earth, this is not really the case. In fact, a majority if not all of the said rivers are made of concrete and stone. The story behind their being underground however is the interesting part and not how they came to be under there.
The waterways that existed in the 1700s and the 1800s can be quite intriguing when compared to how the city looks like today. Older maps show streams flowing naturally to a certain direction and then a few years later, the sewerage systems distorts the whole hydrology of the island to show streams flowing another direction. It is hard, therefore, to accurately tell what flowed where and when.
For a clearer picture of how the city looked like those many years back, you should visit the Montreal City Planning Department where you will get a map of the city before it was covered with skyscrapers. However, some parts of the map might seem too complex while others might seem just too basic. All in all, the map is quite accurate given that buildings are built based on its accuracy.
The underground waterway network of Montreal Island is complex, to say the least. There are rivers that existed and which no longer exist; at least overland. They thrive under the city’s underground which was either created naturally or by man. Consider Ruisseau Glen for example. It was a tributary of Riviere St. Pierre that at one time flowed east of Turcot interchange.
While everybody knows that there are waterways under the city, it is almost impossible to tell just how wide or big they are by just looking at the maps. For the best picture of what lies beneath the city, the only sure way to get actual answers is to gear up and follow these waterways.
As the city grows and as new infrastructure becomes necessary, more stories are bound to be told by those who will have the opportunity to encounter this amazing part of Montreal. However, with the new water pipes getting installed and older ones removed, the maps are also bound to be altered to give a clearer and more accurate picture of exactly how the city’s underground ought to look like.
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