"In the past, there was a fort here that protected the eastern side of the island", recalls Yann Lessnick, urban planner at the Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles borough. Erected at the end of the 17th century, the fort served to defend residents from Iroquois attacks.
A village that grew with the river
The Pointe-aux-Trembles village began to develop not long after, at the same time as the Chemin du Roy road, in the first half of the 18th century. "This was an important stopping point before arriving in Montreal", explains Yann. Did you know that Pointe-aux-Trembles was the first parish on the Montreal Island outside of Ville-Marie?
The historic heritage is still present, especially around the Pointe-aux-Trembles Village Square. A few hundred metres to the west, the old windmill is another relic of the rich past that gave life to the area.
"The borough places great emphasis on heritage preservation and waterfront access", underlines Yann Lessnick.
"The river is part of the neighbourhood and its history", adds Valérie Fraser, a Pointe-aux-Trembles native.
"I spent my youth here. After my studies, I left. But after I had a child, I came back." You don't leave what you love. And Valérie loves Vieux-Pointe-aux-Trembles. Her enthusiasm speaks loudly. "We live just a few minutes from my parents' house, where I grew up", she says proudly.
"I know this area by heart, continues the young woman who works in the heart of downtown. For several years now, we've been seeing new businesses opening their doors, young entrepreneurs starting businesses, a lot of young families arriving."
"From the majestic Victorian villa to the urban condo, bungalow, detached home, single family 1-storey dwelling to the duplex or triplex, here you'll find a large variety of housing from all periods and for all budgets", explains Yann Lessnick. Contrary to new neighbourhoods that are often uniform, we see a lot of differences and personality in the Vieux-Pointe-aux-Trembles' building inventory. Over the years, people invested, renovated and maintained their homes with taste and love.
"This is a neighbourhood in transformation that’s turning back to its village origins, points out Yann Lessnick. We're seeing more and more specialized businesses. " A merchants' association was founded on rue Notre-Dame Street to promote business, bring entertainment activities and encourage encounters among neighbours.
Also, in 2013 the borough adopted the Plan bleu-vert (Blue-Green Plan), which aims to create a public access to the riverbank every 500 metres in order for citizens to reclaim the Saint-Laurent.
"We really enjoy the river, explains Valérie Fraser. There's a marina just nearby, people go fishing on the docks. Often we stroll on the bicycle path along the water. There are benches and picnic tables." During summer weekends, families gather at the public market in the Pointe-aux-Trembles village square where they take a break and admire the view over the Boucherville islands.
An attractive environment for young families
The name Pointe-aux-Trembles comes from the immense Aspen trees that continue today to line the river shore and the neighbourhood streets. Their leaves shake and tremble with even the slightest wind. In the summer, they provide refuge from the sun's rays. In the winter, their immense branches appear to graze the sky.
"We're planning many new projects, states Yann Lessnick. A river shuttle between the neighbourhood and the old port of Montreal will soon be operating daily, within the framework of a pilot project led by the STM (Société de transport de Montréal). "
All of these projects are stemming from real estate projects. "Three new condo developments are in the process of completion, he adds. This represents 79 new residences, of which 27 are being developed as townhouses along the river."
If you find that it's far, Valérie Fraser has a response for you. "It's not too long to go to the office by bus or by metro. You just have to sit back and relax." Plus, it gives you time to read, snooze or listen to music.
"What's attracting buyers above all, underlines Yann Lessnick, are the prices of homes." But there's more than just accessible property! The greenery, the size of lots, from 4,000 to 5,000 square feet, the variety of housing and the fact that there's no bridge to cross are just some of the many reasons that are charming people into coming and settling in Vieux-Pointe-aux-Trembles. "The majority of the residential sector was constructed in the 1950-60s, continues Yann. At that time, the constructions were made solid with strong materials, the yards were large and space was never lacking. We also see numerous mature trees along the streets."
People in the neighbourhood feel safe. They know each other. "We feel that there's a proximity between business owners and residents", concludes Yann Lessnick.
• 68.5 km of bicycle paths run through the Rivière-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles district
• 14 parks and green spaces, 125 in the entire district
• Wide variety of housing styles, including many single family 1-storey homes.