The last stretch of Dorchester Blvd. — now René-Lévesque — to be widened was between Guy St. and Atwater Ave.
“Dorchester Blvd. facelift begun,” announced a headline in the March 21, 1969 edition of the Montreal Gazette.
This accompanying photo by Jean-Pierre Rivest shows a stretch of the street near Atwater Ave.
The plan was to widen the boulevard “from 60 feet to 104 feet from Guy to St. Matthew, to 125 feet from St. Matthew to Fort, and to 104 feet from Fort to Atwater,” we reported. Other sections of the lengthy thoroughfare — since renamed in honour of former premier René Lévesque, except for the Westmount portion — had been widened previously.
In order to carry out the work, 150 dwellings between Guy St. and Atwater Ave. were to be torn down. Their expropriation had been decreed three years earlier, but then delayed while the work was put on hold during Expo 67. Prices for the expropriated properties ranged from $5 to $18 per square foot. The demolitions had begun the previous month. “More than 600 tenants and hundreds of roomers” were affected, we said.
“Once they were dignified and fine, cut-stone mansions with high ceilings and crystal chandeliers, landmarks in the heart of the city. Today, the few that remain are shells peering from hollow eyes, waiting to be demolished.”
To permit a few important buildings to be saved, the demolitions would be on the south side of the street from Guy St. to Fort St., and then on the north side from Fort St. to Atwater Ave.
No date was given for the completion of the project. “But no matter when it’s finished, it won’t be soon enough for thousands of motorists who feel the squeeze on Dorchester each time they pass Guy or Atwater,” we wrote.