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Restoration of the House and the Site

Despite vigorous beginnings, the museum gradually declined. The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959 eventually led to the closing of the Lachine Canal and dwindling local activity. A few years after the fish farm stopped operating, in 1962, the site was all but abandoned.

In 1981, the City of Lachine began restoring Maison LeBer-LeMoyne. Under the direction of the Musée new director, Jacques Toupin, all of the additions masking the original appearance of the house were removed, revealing its characteristic 17th-century French architecture. But it was decided to keep the 19th-century Annexe, which abuts the north side of the stone structure.

At the same time, the 1950s-era laboratory was converted to gallery space, administrative offices and collection storerooms. It is now called Pavillon Benoît-Verdickt.

On September 15, 1985, the museum reopened its doors. The collection had been enriched with a fine arts component that soon included a unique array of public art. Presenting historical objects and early and contemporary artworks, the site reassumed its original vocation as a place of exchange and communication.

1. Overview of the site buildings, southeast view

Before January 13, 1967. M2b/2,9

2. Maison LeBer-LeMoyne and abandoned buildings, northeast view

1981. M2d/4,23

3. Back of Maison LeBer-LeMoyne and outbuildings after restoration, north view

After 1985. M3c/12,38

4. Back of Maison LeBer-LeMoyne and outbuildings after restoration, with west wall of Pavillon Benoît-Verdickt, north view

June 1992. M6/1,5

5. Facade of Maison LeBer-LeMoyne and the Dépendance, southwest view

After 1985. M3c/1,14

Archaeological Investigations and Classification

6. Exterior excavation site, view of north side of the Dépendance

June 2000. Archaeologists Thierry Rauck and Simon Otis, members of the Archéotec team, at work.

7. Excavation site

January 2000. Inside Maison LeBer-LeMoyne. Archaeologist Simon Otis, a member of the Archéotec team, at work.

Archaeological Investigations

More recently, the Maison LeBer-LeMoyne site has been developed in terms of its archaeological value. Between 1998 and 2000, the Musée de Lachine, in partnership with Art Gestion and the Archéotec team, conducted a three-phase excavation project. Surpassing all expectations, the results of these digs have shed light on both the house and the surrounding site. The exhibition Maison LeBer-LeMoyne: Scene of Dreams offers a glimpse of these discoveries and of subsequent research finds.

The 21st Century

The presence of Maison LeBer-LeMoyne in the 21st-century urban landscape serves as a reminder of the daring spirit from which it grew and the boldness of the men who set out from it to explore new territories, seeking adventure, fortune or freedom.

Although the house still overlooks the river, it now faces on to a secondary road. The access routes may have changed, but the site’s importance is undiminished. Recognized for its value as part of Québec and Canadian heritage, Maison LeBer-LeMoyne remains a special place. Preserving it and studying it are essential to understanding the history of Montréal. And developing and promoting it is more than a dream – it is our new challenge.