For many, building or living in a mansion is a life goal/dream, one that may never become a reality. But some Montrealers achieved that aspiration, creating the home of their fantasies within the city.
From hundreds of years ago up to now, mansions are being built in Montreal, with many holding some serious historical significance both for the city and Canada's architectural heritage.
No doubt you've marvelled at some of these buildings before, or wondered who would build such lavish homes, and if you have, you'll find the answers below.
The Île Bizard Mansion With A Golf Course
Priced at a not-so-modest $6 million, this Île Bizard mansion boasts a truly grand exterior that is only matched by the luxurious decor of the interior. Notable features include an underground home theatre (complete with a mini-bar), a private tennis court, and its very own golf course in the backyard. Check out more pics here.
The Ravenscrag Mansion
Now part of McGill's Faculty of Medicine, the estate known as the Ravenscrag Mansion was originally constructed between 1860-63. Built as the home for Sir Hugh Allan, the mansion housed a full 72 rooms by the time it was done, being the most expensive and largest house in Canada at the time. Eventually, Sir Montague Allan, the son of the elder Allan, donated the mansion to the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1940, then becoming the infamous Allan Memorial Institute, which would be the site of some very inhumane psychological experiments in the 1960s.
Mount Stephen Club
What is now known as the Mount Stephen Club was originally the home of George Stephen, aka Lord Mount Stephan, a prominent Montreal-based entrepreneur of the late 1800s. Stephen spent $600,000 ($13 million by today's standards) to build his luxurious home, which is often credited as being a shining example of neo-Renaissance architecture.
When Stephen left Montreal to retire in England, the house then became the meeting grounds for one of Montreal's most exclusive elite clubs, the Mount Stephen Club, where only the cream of the socialite crop would meet. The Mount Stephen Club then became a National Historic Site of Canada in 1971, to then become open for the public to visit.
Unfortunately, the Mount Stephen Club is in a state of danger due to "improvements" made upon the structure, which would damage the integrity of this piece of Canadian architectural history. Read up more on the present dilemma and everything else you need to know about the Mount Stephen Club here.
The Shaughnessy House
While the public can now freely enter the Canadian Centre for Architecture on 1920 Baile Street, a large part of the structure was originally a mansion known as the Shaughnessy House. Designed by William Tutin Thomas (who built several notable buildings in Old Montreal), the mansion was built in 1874 for the Lord Thomas Shaughnessy, president of the Canadian Railway Company from 1899 to 1918. The Shaughnessy House then became the Canadian Centre for Architecture in 1989.
The $12 Million Île-des-Soeurs Mansion
So big it takes up two full lots, this 20-foot ceiling mansion in Verdun/Île-des-Soeurs has its own indoor pool, private gym, outdoor spa, and its very own elevator to travel between its floors. Modern luxury doesn't get any more ritzy, and these pics will prove it.
The J.K.L. Ross House
J.K.L. Ross, an entrepreneur and racehorse owner and breeder, obviously had a strong relationship with his father, because why else would he have a house built right across the street from his dad's? And that's exactly what happened in 1909, then the elder Ross had a house commissioned for his son directly opposite his own on Peel street. Designed in a symmetrical, Classical style, the mansion would eventually be acquired by Marianopolis College in 1961, only to then change hands to McGill University fifteen years later in 1976. It was only then that the mansion become known as the J.K.L. Ross house, and is still used by McGill as the the university's Centre of Air and Space Law
A rather eclectic mix of historical figures have stayed in the Château Ramezay, with the property changing functions throughout the ages as well. Originally built in 1705 for the governor of Montreal Claude de Ramezay, the property was once the the headquarters of the Continental Army when they came to Montreal. Benjamin Franklin actually stayed a night in Château Ramezay in 1776 while trying to get Montrealers to join the American Revolutionary War (which didn't work out too well, by the way.)
The mansion would go on to function as the governor's residence after British conquest to 1849, with British governors now staying in the mansion. Then, in 1878, UdeM would acquire the building, turning Château Ramezay into the school's first Faculty of Medicine.
It wasn't until 1894 did Château Ramezay become a musuem, a function it still serves today, with a collection of about 30,000 objects historical objects.
Lady Meredith House
Back in 1894, Montreal power-couple Isabella Brenda Meredith (née Allan) and Sir Vincent Meredith (the first Bank of Montreal president who was actually Canadian) needed a home, and so decided to construct a lavish mansion on a piece of land on des Pins that was bequeathed to Isabella when her father died. Calling upon the aide of architects Edward & William Sutherland Maxwell, the Queen Anne revival-style mansion was then built in 1897, originally known as Ardvarna. Lady Meredith later gifted the house to the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1941 to use as a nurse's residence. McGill University then gained ownership of the mansion in 1975 and it is now the site of the school's Centre for Medicine, Ethics, and Law.
Monklands/Villa Maria House
Known today as the Villa-Maria school, this Montreal mansion was originally the estate of James Monk, the Chief Justice of Lower Canada, and was purchased in 1795. Popularly known as "Monklands," the residence became home for the General Governor of Canada in 1844, with several architectural adjustments made to the Palladian-style villa.
Monklands didn't become a place of learning until 1854, as it was then purchased by the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal as a boarding school. It was at this time that the estate became known as Villa Maria, Latin for "House of Mary," and not a nod to Montreal's original name. The boarding school would then close in 1966, with Monklands/Villa Maria becoming the girls school (although boys were recently integrated) it is now known as today.
The Montreal Mansion With Its Own Private Street
Nothing says "exclusive luxury" like a mansion with its very own street, and that's exactly what this Montreal residence has, as it fully occupies a private stretch of road known as Jean-Girard street. Built in 1805, this mansion has a history as long as many of the others on this list, but has remained a private residence and received many modern upgrades including a heated driveway, a gym, massage room and more. See more pics here.