McGee Lintel Stones at Concordia University
Concordia University has been the home since 1962 of the lintel stones from Thomas D'Arcy McGee's Montreal home.
Thomas D'Arcy McGee was born in Ireland on April 13, 1825, and died in Ottawa on April 7, 1868. McGee was a journalist, political activist, poet, and public speaker in Ireland, the United States, and Canada. In 1857, at the request of the Montreal Irish community, he moved to Montreal, where he established the newspaper, New Era . He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from Montreal in December 1857. He attended the Charlottetown and Québec conferences and was a Father of Confederation. He was assassinated in Ottawa on April 7, 1868, less than a year after Confederation, and shortly before his forty-third birthday.
In 1864 a number of McGee's constituents gave him a gift of a house on which a part of the mortgage had been paid. He lived there with his family until his death. McGee's daughters sold the house in 1888. The house was on the south side of Ste-Catherine Street near Drummond (now 1198 Ste-Catherine Street West, but in McGee's time it was 2 Montmorency Terrace/562 St.Catherine, and slightly set back from the street). The house had two distinctive lintel stones decorated with beautifully carved shamrocks, and it was a popular Montreal landmark after McGee's death. The stones come from Montreal's Carrière St-Marc and are made of distinctive Montreal limestone.
During WW2, the stones were covered when an extension brought the building flush with St. Catherine Street and created the Chic'n 'Coop, and its Indian Room, a very popular restaurant and night spot owned by the Hill brothers (Eli, Cecil, and Victor).
The building was destroyed by fire in November 1962, but the stones were recovered, and the Hill brothers donated them to Loyola College. They were mounted into a cement frame and placed on the front lawn of the Georges P. Vanier Library. The Library was completed in 1964, and at the time it included a D'Arcy McGee room. Archival materials about McGee from that room are now part of the Concordia University Archives. The stones stood quietly at the front of the Vanier Library, between the present entrance and the old Library stairway, on the Loyola Campus of Concordia, until November 2000.
By the year 2000, the lintel stones were in poor condition, ravaged by time and the elements. The stone facing west had deteriorated badly and was in imminent danger of losing the beautiful shamrock carvings, due to erosion.
In the fall of 2000, the Concordia University Archives contracted with a respected stone conservator, Trevor Gillingwater, for the stabilization of the lintel stones. Mr. Brian Gallery and the St. Patrick's Society of Montreal both contributed generously to this project. The stones were stored on the Loyola Campus until a proper new location could be arranged.
In May 2006 the Thomas D'Arcy McGee lintel stones were installed in an indoor location on the ground floor of the new Concordia Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex in downtown Montreal. This building is just a few blocks west of their original location as part of the McGee house on Ste-Catherine Street near Drummond.
The stones are a tangible memory of an important Irish figure in Montreal, a Father of Confederation, journalist, poet, and gifted orator, who was a fiery and passionate politician.