The History of Nun’s Island

Published: November 4, 2019

With over 400 years of history, Nun's Island has a lot to offer. Known for centuries as Saint Paul's Island, its rich agricultural landscape has slowly transitioned into one of Montreal's most sought-after suburbs. 

History of nuns island

In 1664, Lord Jean de Lauzon handed over Nun's Island to three lords: Claude Robustel de Saint-André, Jean-Baptiste and Jaques Le Ber. These three would become the first inhabitants of the land, splitting the island into three lots of equal size.

Thirty years later, Le Ber's daughter donated her inherited portion of the island to the Soeurs de Notre-Dame Congregation. The Nun's missions were to teach Catholicism to women and children and to help them thrive in their new home. Over the course of a few years, the nuns had acquired various parts of the island, and by 1769, the sisters became the sole owners of the island.

A convent was built for them in 1788. For more than 200 years later, the nuns harvested wheat and oats and raised livestock including cattle, pigs, chickens, ducks and some sheep for wool.

kids playground nuns island montreal

In the 1920s, the island became connected to the rest of the world by telephone. Unfortunately, the nuns began to struggle to adapt to industrialization. The began to consider selling the island when construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway began in 1954. Up until then, they used a barge to cross from one side of the river to the other. On January 26, 1956, the Quebec Home and Mortgage Corporation officially purchased the island for $1.3 million.

nuns island

Just one year later, the Quebec Home and Mortgage Corporation began construction on Montreal's famed Champlain Bridge. It was the first key urban footprint on the island. To speed up the development of the island, the corporation collaborated with Structures Metropolitans du Canada in 1965. In 1966, the island was officially named Ile des Soeurs.

Mies van de Rohe

Structure Metropolitaines did a call for several businesses and contractors to develop the land, including world-famous architect Mies van de Rohe. This was the starting point for one of Montreal's most thriving suburban community's.  

In May 2002, Boardwalk purchased its Nun’s Island Portfolio, which included 3,100 residential rental units. It was the company’s first acquisition in the province of Québec and the single largest transaction by unit count and dollar amount at the time. With the properties, Boardwalk acquired the operating company of MSI, along with its long-serving staff.

Today with the Battures Lake, the St. Lawrence River and its numerous nature paths, Nuns' Island is one of the most beautiful places to live in the Montreal area. Although very inhabited because of all condominium and apartments towers, the place maintains a good balance between nature and urbanization.

Though you won't be able to explore the historic ruins of the old Nun's convent as a fire in the 1960s consumed them, there's still so much to do and see. Click here to view all our apartments available for rent on the island.



Images Montreal. (2019). Borough Nuns' Island. Retrieved from

Maison Saint-Gabriel. (2018). L'Ile aux Soeurs to L'Ile-des-soeurs. Retrieved from

Montreal Gazette. (2014). History of nuns' garden deeply rooted in Montreal's past. Retrieved from

Nun's Island. (2019). Nuns' Island History. Retrieved from

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