Historical commentary: Stéphane Tessier. Directing and filming for this video: Nicolas St-Germain.
The video starts with a shot of water running downstream from the dike. Then we see historian and cultural animator Stéphane Tessier (ST), standing on top of the dike, near the mills. Old maps of the Montreal archipelago show Sault-au-Récollet’s position on the Des Prairies River, with the mills located between La Visitation Island and the Island of Montreal. Mr. Tessier goes over the first structures built at the time of Miller Simon Sicard. The clip ends with images of the ruins of two turbines, still in place in one of the channels
ST And so the mills site was built after the departure of the missionary outpost of Fort Lorette, whose mission was to convert the indigenous population in the area. In a way, the mills site was the start of the village, the seigneury of Sault-au-Récollet.
The dike between the islands of Montreal and La Visitation was built between 1724 and 1726. The river’s current was harnessed to create a water basin and to power a series of mills.
This was a technical feat, an accomplishment unparalleled in Québec at the time.
1726 saw the construction of the first mill: a sawmill. The next year, 1727, came the miller’s house, which we can still see today, in 2022. This building used to be a flour mill.
Years passed. Other mills would appear on the dike: a second flour mill, and later a mill for carding and fulling wool.