Home Arts A little lesson in West Island history

A little lesson in West Island history

by Archives March 12, 2003

As a resident of the West Island, it’s a guilty pleasure when I get to write about something in it. As it stands, one of the best-kept secrets of my borough is the Pointe-Claire Stewart Hall Cultural Centre, more notably its art gallery.

What on earth could “Pink Pills for Pale People,” Brockville, Ontario, and Senator Taylor Fulford all have in common with Stewart Hall? Quite a lot, as it turns out.

“Pink Pills for Pale People” is a medication that was marketed by Senator Taylor Fulford that advertised itself as a cure for all ailments. Fulford’s excellent marketing skills, as well as his savvy business know-how made the pink pills the number one selling cure-all remedy at the turn of the 20th century. He, in turn, bought 14 acres of waterfront land in Brockville, Ontario and enlisted the help of American architect Albert Fuller to design his mansion, to be known as Fulford Manor.

As you stand in front of the mansion, you can’t help but notice the uncanny resemblance Fulford Manor has to Stewart Hall. For good reason too, because everyone knows reproduction is the best form of flattery. Colonel Charles W. McLean, the cousin of Fulford, had a similar home built, a 35-room limestone mansion on Lakeshore road, upon his return from war in 1916. It would be called Mull Hall. The immense building overlooked the waterfront of what we now know as Lac St-Louis. It was constructed of solely natural materials: a verandah is made of oak, the floors of parquetry, and the staircase of carved oak. The manse was separated into East and West wings, which housed enormous fireplaces, lavish reception halls, dozens of bedrooms, and a billiard room.

In 1958 Mr. and Mrs. Walter Stewart, who resided in the adjoining property, bought Mull Hall. In August of 1959 they resold it to the former City of Pointe-Claire for a dollar on the promise that it would be turned into a civic and cultural centre for all the residents to enjoy.

In 1963, with the help of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Stewart Hall Art Gallery was created. Not so oddly enough the gallery is located on the third floor of the house, which, before its conversion into a cultural centre, was the space used on occasion to display pieces of artwork. Today, the gallery maintains a steady flow of exhibitions from emerging and more established artists from Quebec and Canada as well as collections from Canada, the US and the international front as well.

The new exhibit, which began on the March 8 and runs until April 27 is titled “Alphabets” and displays works by Canadian artists such as Th

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