Living in a park and on an island in Montreal, but not in the one… of Montreal? It is the luck of the inhabitants of the 11 houses on Île de la Visitation, located in the nature park of the same name, in the borough of Ahuntsic-Cartierville.

“All the residents of the island were offered to be expropriated. Those who stayed refused,” said Monique Lussier, who shares an intergenerational home with her son Philippe, his partner Annie and their three children.

Her husband, Jacques Paquette, is considered “the memory” of Visitation Island, but since his memory played tricks on him because of Alzheimer’s, he is taken care of nearby in a residence on Boulevard Gouin . A great storyteller, he liked to sit on the balcony of his house to talk about the profession of ice merchant which was once practiced from father to son on the island.

We can still see Mr. Paquette talking about the profession which disappeared with the arrival of refrigerators in the newly put online website for the 300 years of history of the Moulins site (see next tab).

With the development of the nature park inaugurated in 1983, Visitation Island has changed a lot. “There was a golf course before,” recalls Philippe Paquette.

The golf course was built by Richard Morel behind the house where his granddaughter, Anne-Catherine Morel (Philippe Paquette’s second cousin), still lives. His parents grew up on the island. “My father was born in the house here, my mother, in the one over there where my aunt Danielle still lives,” explains Anne-Catherine, showing us the eastern tip of the island. “They grew up together, fell in love, married young, and today live in a duplex in Étienne-Brûlé. Do you see the green quay with a Quebec flag at the water’s edge? This is where they live and where I grew up. »

Anne-Catherine Morel points to the existence of a 1995 La Presse article in which her grandparents, Richard and Émilienne Morel, praise their “paradise” on the island. “Originally, this is the milkman’s house here. My grandparents wanted her to stay in the family,” she points out.

When she was younger, Anne-Catherine always had a premonition that she would live there one day. “My grandfather died here. That same evening, I slept here so that the house would not be empty,” she recalls.

Today, it is too small for Anne-Catherine, her lover Stéphane and their five children. The major work planned must respect the heritage character of the property. “Every time we open a wall, there’s a surprise!” “says the one who strips the facade.

When Anne-Catherine met her lover, the latter was a territory warden for the SEPAQ in the La Vérendrye wildlife reserve, but he knew precisely where Visitation Island was since his father had ended his days nearby in a building of rue du Pont… “It’s the best of both worlds,” says the Rosemont native who lived in the community of Lac-Simon after learning he was Algonquin. “Being in the city in the middle of nature, it’s like reconciling my two lives. And it’s so steeped in history. »

The Valois form another important family on Île de la Visitation. “I was born here, but I grew up in Laval,” says Benoit Valois. My grandfather had a grocery store on rue du Pont, at the corner of Gouin. 80 years ago, he bought the house from the Lamontagne family. »

Benoit inherited the duplex in 2015: “I knew I would live there one day. »

But after the death of his mother, closely followed by that of his father, he had to tame the place.

Since last July, Benoit’s daughter, still studying, has been his tenant. “She has a baccalaureate in urban planning and she did session work on the history of the cadastre, underlines her father. Sometimes I think to myself, maybe she will live here. This would be the fifth generation of Valois heritage. »

He feels he has a duty of transmission: “I will never sell that house. When I give my address, people say, ‘eh, you live on Visitation Island?’ »

Claude Meunier describes himself as “the first intruder” on the island. The former soundman for TV – but who did not play Ti-Mé – became an islander in 1988 by chance.

It was his first visit to Île de la Visitation and, the same day, he visited the duplex with his mother, to quickly make an offer to purchase, which was accepted in the evening. “It was all wrong, but the space was beautiful,” he recalls. I was the first intruder. The houses had not been resold for many years. »

Small problem: his real estate transaction had to be approved by the executive council of the City of Montreal, because it was shortly after the creation of the nature park.

Claude Meunier’s courtyard is magnificent: flowers, vegetable plants (which marmots love), spa, semi-inground wooden swimming pool and, last addition, the summer kitchen. “It’s the countryside in the city,” he describes.

Charles-Étienne Pronovost, his parents, his lover Julie and their children live for their part in the house at the end of the island with the red roof that everyone sees when taking the Papineau-Leblanc bridge. “People ask us if it’s an inn,” said Charles-Étienne.

“It’s a house that’s anything but standard and has a vacation beat,” adds Julie as the children swim with friends in the in-ground pool. In winter, we make an ice rink out front. »

The couple also speak of a “Frankenstein” house. Pieces and extensions have been added over time, as evidenced by interior walls that were formerly exterior.

Julie, her lover and her in-laws were looking for an intergenerational house and by “a gift of fate”, they saw the house with the red roof “for sale”. “Parc de l’Île-de-la-Visitation was my favorite place in Montreal. I thought houses just stayed in families. It’s a great privilege,” admits Julie.