Parc-Extension welcomes its newest park

Centennial Park finally inaugurated with new artwork

City officials recently inaugurated the neighbourhood’s newest park at the corner of Saint-Roch and Stuart. Photo: Karine Payette. 

The rain and grey weather last Thursday didn’t stop residents from gathering to inaugurate the neighbourhood’s newest park at the corner of Saint-Roch and Stuart. Over two years after it was first announced, the borough officially opened Centennial Park to the public. 

Attended by volunteers, city employees and local elected officials, the ceremony introduced the newly renovated park, which now showcases a photo wall displaying historical images of Parc-Extension along with a brand-new art piece that also serves as a playground for children.

Both Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli, local City Councillors Mary Deros, Josué Corvil, and Sylvain Ouellet, were present, along with Côte-des-Neiges City Councillor Magda Popeanu, responsible for culture on the executive committee of the City of Montreal. 

The artist behind the new installation Karine Payette as well as Mary McCutcheon, president of the Parc-Extension Historical Society, were also in attendance.

The park itself commemorates Park-Extension’s centennial anniversary in 2010, nearly 12 years ago now. Park-Extension was founded in 1910 and was largely comprised of agricultural land and smaller residential areas. 

“Artist Karine Payette also wanted to pay tribute to the immigrants who shaped the identity of this neighbourhood,”

Commemorating 100 years

“The layout and the name of the park recall the centenary of the district, celebrated in 2010,” said borough Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli. “This project also constitutes an improvement in the quality of the green space offered for the residents of the district,” added the mayor.

The new park features several sitting areas and picnic tables, along with a specially made reading area with accompanying bookcases. The parks’ centrepiece is undoubtedly the newest multifunctional art piece. 

The park is also illuminated by light bollards and directional spotlights lighting up the area with the sculpture.

From bottom left to top right: Nathalie Vaillancourt, director of the borough; Audrey Villeneuve, communications officer; Mary McCutcheon, president of the Parc-Extension Historical Society; Giuliana Fumagalli, borough mayor; Karine Payette, artist; and Mary Deros, city councillor for the Parc-Extension district; Sylvain Ouellet, François-Perrault district councilor; Geneviève Matteau, cultural development agent at the Bureau d’art public de Montréal; Sasha Dyck, chief of staff at the district town hall; Josué Corvil, councilor for the district of Saint-Michel; Elsa Marsot, director of culture, sports, recreation and social development; Anik Nigella Blondin, landscape architect; Geneviève Roberge, cultural agent; and Andréane Leclerc, head of the culture, libraries and public events division. Photo: Borough of Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension.

Terre en vue

Terre en vue was created by visual artist Karine Payette and depicts a panda on the shoulders of a polar bear on a boat out at sea, accompanied by a swimming dolphin. The installation also acts as a jungle gym for children to climb and play on

“Payette’s work contributes to the dynamism of the park and encourages people to take a moment out of their day or evening to enjoy this island of freshness,” added the mayor. 

“Artist Karine Payette wanted to pay tribute to the immigrants who shaped the identity of this neighbourhood,” said Magda Popeanu. 

The boat itself represents the displacement of communities and the instability and loss of reference points that many immigrants experience. “The scene reflects the constant need for living beings to adapt to their environment, and highlights the importance of species conservation and the fragility of ecosystems,” read a statement by the borough. 

The art piece also includes two micro libraries, housing a collection of books for people to peruse. Un livre à la mer showcases smaller versions of the panda and polar bear sitting in inner-tubes in the ocean. 

The art piece also includes two micro libraries, housing a collection of books for people to read. Photo: Borough of Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension

A view into the past 

At the very back of the park, a wire-frame wall covered in vines acts as an open-air photo gallery, displaying historical images of Park-Extension from a century ago. Provided by the Park Extension Historical Society, it offers park-goers a look back in time. 

Mary McCutcheon, president of the Parc-Extension historical society, described the neighbourhood as a very different place 100 years ago. “In the northern part, it was still very rural,” she said, explaining that it only started to develop as landowners subdivided and sold lots.

A century ago, people began to settle around de l’Épée and close to the Parc train station, urbanizing the area rapidly. “It was an area in transition,” said Muchetheon, adding that many of the photos depicted the change occurring in the area at the time.

A long time in the making

Terre en vue is the result of the first public art commission for the Municipal Collection. In addition to appealing to children’s curiosity, the panda and the polar bear pushes them to question the potential fate of the endangered species and ecosystems.

The park itself has been open for over a year but had not been fully completed with its artistic centrepiece. St-Sophie’s church had once stood on the plot of land before it was destroyed by fire and left vacant for several years. The church was eventually rebuilt on the eastern corner, with the remaining space sold to the city for a park. 

It was only in 2019 that funding was approved and a contract was awarded to build the new green space for an original budget of $828,703. The public work of art was funded through a cultural development program with the collaboration of the Bureau d’art public du Service de la culture de la Ville de Montréal.

Photo: Matias Brunet-Kirk – NEWSFIRST