L’Île-des-Soeurs's Many Facets

The Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame had given an option to purchase to Mr. Colin Gravenor who invited Mr. Gewurz and Remer to join him in purchasing the land.  Mr. Colin Gravenor sold out his shares the following year and Mr. Gewurz and Remer continued to run Quebec Home and Mortgage which has been involved in the development of the island since then.

In the 30 years of L’Île-des-Soeurs development, the character of its population, its community life, even its architecture, has matured — almost as if it were alive!

What began as a fully planned dream community in 1966 quickly earned itself a reputation as a paradise Island for swinging singles. Soon enough, however, the swinging singles began pairing off. At the time, the only housing available on L’Île-des-Soeurs were rental units owned by MSI. That fact left many Island couples in a quandary: they loved living here, but there wasn’t any private housing available. In 1978 however, MSI suspended its plans for the balance of the rental community and private ownership was established on the balance.

Let’s call the next phase the honeymoon period. A series of different private developers built the first condo towers, townhouses, and bungalows. Each had its strengths — and weaknesses — but the lack of any coordinated development created a patchwork quilt of designs, densities, and demographics. But things had already started to change. Quebec Home and Mortgage — the company that bought the Island from the Congregation of Notre-Dame in 1956 and had signed a long-term lease with MSI in 1965 — engaged its own development company: Proment Corporation. What followed was a series of buildings that have now become synonymous with the Island’s image of prestige living: Les Verrières, Val de L’Anse, winner of the Orange award from Save Montreal, Club Marin, Domaine de la Forêt, Cours du Fleuve developed by Proment. As well, Le Groupe St-Jacques developed several projects around the prize winning Parc Lacoursière.

Meanwhile, with each new development, the physical and demographic face of the Island changes. We’ve become collectively richer and better educated. More and more Island households represent couples, francophones, professionals, and entrepreneurs, homeowners versus renters. And with the growth in single-family homes, the DINKs (Double-income, no kids) of the 70s are rapidly losing ground to families who want all the advantages of the suburbs without having to battle traffic and bridges to get to work.

The Island began as a dream community, planned on the adrenaline of youthful ideals. But market forces shifted its course and altered its face: they turned a swinging singles paradise into a mixed community that hosts both the young and the old; québécois de souche and new Canadians; singles, couples and families; the rich and the middle-class. Nuns' Island remains a dream community, and the best evidence is that so many residents retain a passion for their vision of its future.