The Little St-Pierre River played a key role in the founding of Montreal, as Samuel de Champlain decided to land and settle on the point where it met the St-Lawrence River. The function of the Little St-Pierre was twofold; it served as a port for boats and canoes, and at the same time acted as a barrier protecting French settlers from incursions by the indigenous Iroquois population. It was the ongoing conflict with the Iroquois that eventually incited residents of Montreal’s first settlement, Ville Marie, to follow the little river westwards. The valley of the Little St-Pierre River represents the first line of communication into the western part of the island.
An intricate network of rivers and creeks once crossed the island of Montreal. The city was, in fact, known as the City of Bridges. Some were stone, but the majority of bridges were made of wood with cedar railings. Many of today’s major streets were once connected by bridges that crossed the former waterways. At St-Nicholas Street and Place d’Youville you’ll find a plaque marking the spot of a wooden bridge that once spanned the Little St-Pierre River.