History of Montreal’s Oldest Street

comedy show montreal - History of Montreal’s Oldest Street

While Comedyville is invested in bringing you the best stand-up comedy shows in Montreal, we also love sharing the grandeur that is our fine city! One of the most wonderful things about Montreal is its extensive history, something that you can seemingly find around every single corner as you explore the city. If you want to pair a fun visiting experience with a large dose of history, you only need to head to Saint Paul Street (rue Saint-Paul), Montreal’s oldest street.

A Brief History of Mont Saint Paul Street

As you may know from our earlier post, Montreal was founded in 1642 as the settlement of Fort Ville-Marie, an early French settlement in the region. The very first street was created near a route that bordered a fort that once stood in the city. The street was created by François Dollier de Casson and was named for Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, who founded Montreal. In fact, the city’s founder later established a home on the street in 1650.

In 1672, Saint Paul Street was paved with cobblestones, a look that the majority of the street still maintains today, harkening back to its historical past. At this time, Saint Paul Street served as the center of the area’s fur trade, a critical part of Montreal’s early history. Canoes would arrive via the St. Lawrence River and unload their furs along the street to be sold.

Saint Paul Street would be the city’s main thoroughfare for the majority of its life. Over time, the neighborhood situated around Saint Paul Street, known aptly as Old Montreal, started to change. It became home to many warehouses as industry grew while fewer people resided on the street in homes. By the 1950s, people were looking at the possibility of revitalizing the neighborhood by tearing down many of the old buildings.

Fortunately, this plan was scrapped after much debate. Instead, efforts were made to preserve the history of the neighborhood, including the buildings. Instead, Saint Paul Street would find itself becoming a central part of Montreal’s tourism scene, with its cobblestone streets and historic sites helping transport visitors back to the early days of the French settlement.

montreal comedy club

Saint Paul Street Today

If you have visited Montreal, you’ve likely spent time on Saint Paul Street. Today, the street maintains much of its historic look with new appeal. The western portion of the street has become a popular place for offices and places like the Phi Centre. Meanwhile, the eastern portion of Saint Paul Street is the prime place for tourist to visit.

As you walk around Saint Paul Street, you’ll notice throngs of t-shirt shops and other tourist places. However, one of the most exciting aspects to check out is Place Jacques-Cartier, a square that serves as the entry to the Old Port. Here, you will find many restaurants, exciting street performers, and a car-free area in the summer. If you are visiting our wonderful city, here are some things to do on Saint Paul Street.

comedy in montreal

Notre Dame de bon Secours Chapel

While not as famous as the Notre Dame Basilica, this chapel serves as a historical area worth a visit. Built over the ruins of another chapel, you will see beautiful stained glass, painted murals, and ornate architecture in this building. Nearby is the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum (Musée Marguerite Bourgeoys), which celebrates the history of the city’s first teacher as well as being home to an archaeological site. The remains of the stone chapel, founded by the museum’s namesake in 1675, closely approximate the outline of some of the oldest First Nations sites in Old Montreal.

Place d’Armes

Just a short walk off of Saint Paul Street, you will find the public space of Place d’Armes. If you love art, this is a place you’ll definitely want to check out during your first visit in Montreal. This space features a lot of public art and is a great spot for people-watching. Montreal is truly a city with many public spaces that make the city lively and one of a kind in Canada and North America.

Marche Bonsecours

Beneath an iconic silver dome, you will find Marche Bonsecours. This building was constructed in 1847 and served as City Hall for several decades before being converted into a market. It served as the major market in Montreal until the 1960s. Restored as a public space in 1996, it is currently a retail center where you can shop from a variety of boutiques and galleries while also having dining options at several restaurants.

See a Vestige of the Original Montreal

While you won’t find people unloading fur pelts today, you can still find excellent reminders of Montreal’s long history on rue Saint-Paul. You can find many modern accoutrements such as fancy restaurants, artsy shops, and lively entertainment. Be sure to take a stroll down Saint Paul Street during your visit to Montreal and explore the history of Montreal’s oldest street. Also, catch a late night stand-up comedy show at a Montreal comedy club.


Post by Eddie Case, exclusively for, All rights reserved.
Comedyville is a Comedy Club located in Downtown Montreal. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *