A LITTLE HISTORY / JARRY PARK
Created in 1925, Jarry Park is one of the largest parks in the metropolitan area. Already, back in the day, this big «playground», as the city’s public works department defined it, undoubtedly evoked keen interest from the Montreal community, which recognized «its potential as a gathering and development spot for the city.»1 After leasing the park from the Jarry family for several years, the city finally acquired it in September, 1945. The period from 1945 to 1968 was a time of strengthening and consolidation in the park’s history. From 1950 on, the new development plan for the park was implemented, with the work extending over the next decade.
A place for relaxation, for sport … and for gathering
It was the end of the 1950s when the Montreal Alouettes began training at Jarry Park. «The announcement of this decision increased Jarry Park’s fame by having it become better known, and accorded it a prestige never heretofore enjoyed.»2
Montreal’s soccer team joined the football players in 1966. The baseball diamond, for its part, was made available to local leagues in early 1960. From that point, the stadium was used for Montreal Junior Baseball League games. Then, from 1969 on, it hosted the Montreal Expos. No less than 29,000 people flocked to Jarry Park for the season opener! The team’s popularity was so great that total attendance surpassed 7,500,000 spectators during the first eight years at Jarry Park Stadium.
«As well, as in other municipal parks, activities such as archery, tennis, swimming, skating, team sports (lacrosse, hockey, baseball, football, soccer), track and field and more social games (swings, petanque, lawn bowling, etc.) were offered, not to mention other leisure activities and games, each more enjoyable than the last.»3 It should be mentioned that in 1956, there were already 20 municipal tennis courts in Jarry Park’s north section.
The baseball stadium began to be used for other activities in 1973. «If the Expos baseball team greatly contributed to the increasing popularity of Jarry Park and set it apart from the other Montreal city parks, a first event of major importance, the Jehovah’s Witnesses international convention, will introduce it on the international scene. It would be the first, followed by two even more prestigious events that would illustrate the more recent history of Jarry Park – the Canadian Open and the visit of Pope John Paul II.»4
It is interesting to note that the Jehovah’s Witnesses convention, a unique event in Montreal’s history, was held alongside the park’s everyday activities and the Expos games; more than 70,000 meals were served in four days! Eleven years later, Pope John Paul II attracted 300,000 people to the park to celebrate an open-air mass.
As part of the Jarry Park Development Plan and in addition to the 1995 JPTC (know today as the Uniprix Stadium) construction project, the City of Montreal itself invested more than $4.5 million in the park over the last 15 years, notably in the games area, lake, repairing of the tennis courts and baseball diamonds, integration of a piece of art, skateboarding, water activities, soccer and cricket fields, children’s playground, dog run, volleyball courts, planting, installation of park furniture and lighting. So much so that over the years, more and more cultural and sporting events – large and small scale, and initiated by the sector’s various cultural communities – have brightened the life of Jarry Park
1Le parc Jarry de Montréal, François Hudon, éditions Logiques, 2000, page 61
2Le parc Jarry de Montréal, François Hudon, éditions Logiques, 2000, page 83
3Le parc Jarry de Montréal, François Hudon, éditions Logiques, 2000, page 87
4Le parc Jarry de Montréal, François Hudon, éditions Logiques, 2000, page 119