Learn how the city worked with members of the Kahnawà:ke community to highlight archaeological discoveries dating back to 1350, which reveal Iroquoian presence in what is now central Montréal.
Exceptional archaeological discoveries
Between 2016 and 2019, archaeological excavations carried out in the Peel Street sector brought to light the remains of village life associated with the St. Lawrence Iroquoians. A series of radiocarbon studies indicate that the site was, in all likelihood, occupied between the years 1300 and 1400.
The remains are part of the same site that was uncovered circa 1860 between Rue Mansfield and Rue Metcalfe, south of Sherbrooke, which was examined by William Dawson, rector of McGill University. At that time, he thought this might have been the village of Hochelaga, visited by Jacques Cartier in 1535. However, insufficient evidence had been discovered to support this hypothesis.
Recent discoveries include more than 2,000 potsherds, almost a hundred fragments of ceramic pipes, and a variety of food remnants, including animal bones and charred seeds. Physical and chemical analyses of the food remnants in the pottery revealed the importance of fish in the diet of the village’s occupants.
A bridge between urban planning and reconciliation efforts
Given the importance of these archaeological discoveries, it was decided to showcase First Nations history in Rue Peel’s redesign. Carried out in collaboration with the Kahnawà:ke community, this initiative is consistent with the Montréal Strategy for Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2020.
The first design feature that highlights the discoveries is the cast iron tree grates to be installed all along the street. Openings in the tree grates reference a pattern found on the Iroquoian potsherds. In addition to showcasing the results of the archaeological digs, they also become an emblem for Rue Peel.
Installation of thematic stations is also planned. Each station will include a pair of sphere-shaped seats in bronze on which artistic designs created by two artists will be engraved. Each station addresses a different theme related to the history of interactions between the Iroquoian and European peoples. The themes are being developed in partnership with the Kahnawà:ke Band Council. A total of 11 stations are planned between Rue Smith and Avenue des Pins.