Griffintown - Photo exhibition at the McCord Museum

Photography Exhibition

Until March 7, 2021

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Griffintown – Evolving Montreal

Robert Walker

Last chance! Exhibition on display until March 7, 2021.

As seen through the lens of Montreal photographer Robert Walker, known for his colour street photographs, Griffintown reveals the radical changes that have been wrought on this neighbourhood’s urban fabric. In his vibrant pictures from 2018 and 2019, traces of past and present confront one another in a dynamic play of colour, line and pattern. The new face of Griffintown, one of Montreal’s oldest and most mythical neighbourhoods, emerges through an incongruous melding of its industrial, working-class roots and a new architectural landscape of shimmering luxury and comfort.

A display of twenty large-format photographs, supplemented by a projection of a hundred or so others, along with historical pictures of the neighbourhood drawn from the Museum’s collection, is designed to make viewers think about the tension between the rapid gentrification of Griffintown and the preservation of its heritage. The exhibition is an invitation to reflect on urban transformation and how we relate to Montreal’s past.

  • Robert Walker, <i>Vue de la rive nord du canal de Lachine</i> / <i>Looking north from the Lachine Canal</i>, 2019
  • Robert Walker, <i>Vue vers le nord depuis la rue Basin</i> / <i>Looking north from Basin Street</i>, 2019
  • Robert Walker, <i>Vue de la rue Basin vers le sud</i> / <i>Looking south on Basin Street</i>, 2019
  • Robert Walker, <i>Vue vers le nord depuis l'angle des rues Ottawa et Ann</i> / <i>Looking north from Ottawa and Ann streets</i>, 2019
  • Robert Walker, <i>Rue Rioux</i> / <i>Rioux Street</i>, 2019
  • Robert Walker, <i>Vue vers le sud depuis les rues Wellington et Shannon</i> / <i>Looking south on Wellington and Shannon streets</i>, 2019
  • Robert Walker, <i>Vue vers l'est depuis la rue du Square-Gallery</i> / <i>Looking east from Square-Gallery Street</i>, 2019
  • Robert Walker, <i>Vue vers le nord depuis l’angle de Wellington et Young</i> / <i>Looking north from Wellington and Young streets</i>, 2019
  • Robert Walker, <i>Benne à ordures, coin des rues de la Montagne et Wellington</i> / <i>Dumpster on Mountain and Wellington streets</i>, 2019
  • Robert Walker, <i>Vue vers le sud depuis l’angle des rues Ottawa et Richmond</i> / <i>Looking south from Ottawa Street and Richmond Street</i>, 2019
  • Robert Walker, <i>Clôture d’un chantier, rue Ottawa</i> / <i>Construction fence, Ottawa Street</i>, 2019
  • <i>Robert Walker</i>, 2020 © Musée McCord Museum – Marilyn Aitken

Robert Walker

Born in Montreal in 1945, Robert Walker graduated in visual arts from Sir George Williams University in the late 1960s. It was not until 1975, after attending a workshop given by American photographer Lee Friedlander, that Walker adopted street photography as his mode of artistic expression. Wanting to break away from the black and white trend, he turned to colour, which was considered less “artistic” at the time.

In 1978, he moved to New York City where he pointed his lens at Times Square on numerous occasions for almost 10 years. He contributed to various publications, including Color is Power (Thames & Hudson, 2000), in which he published street photographs taken over three decades in Montreal, New York, Warsaw, Paris, Rome, Toronto and Provincetown.

Follow Montreal street photographer Robert Walker in Griffintown and learn more about his artistic insight!


The “fief of Nazareth” was the first colonial name given to the area, located southwest of downtown. Granted to Jeanne Mance in 1654, it served for many years as pastoral land for the Religieuses Hospitalières de Saint-Joseph. In 1791 Irish judge Thomas McCord – grandfather of Museum founder David Ross McCord – acquired the fief on a 99-year lease. After his associate Patrick Langan illegally sold the lease to businesswoman Mary Griffin, she contracted surveyor Louis Charland to divide the area into dense, grid-shaped lots. McCord eventually regained his property, but Griffin’s name survived, and her allotment plan would shape its industrial development throughout the nineteenth century.

  • David Wallace Marvin, <i>Couple walking on Notre-Dame Street near Inspecteur Street, Griffintown</i>, about 1970, 35 mm negative, 2.3 x 3.5 cm, MP-1978.186.1.2356
  • David Wallace Marvin, <i>Griffintown Horse Palace, carriage stable, Griffintown</i>, about 1970, 35 mm negative, 2.3 x 3.5 cm, MP-1978.186.1.4940
  • William Notman & Son, <i>Imperial Oil gas station, Smith Street, Griffintown</i>, about 1930, gelatin silver print, 20.4 x 25 cm, VIEW-24937.1
  • William Notman & Son, <i>Joseph Bastien grocery, Barré Street, corner of Gareau Lane</i>, 1903, glass plate negative, 20.3 x 25.4 cm, II-146724
  • William Notman & Son, <i>View of Montreal from the Montreal Street Railway powerhouse chimney</i>, 1896, two glass plate negatives, 20.2 x 25.4 cm each, VIEW-2941 and VIEW-2942
  • William Notman & Son, <i>James Williamson factory, Brennan Street</i>, 1887, glass plate negative, 20.3 x 25.4 cm, II-83368

Evolving Montreal

With the exhibition Griffintown as seen by Robert Walker, the McCord Museum is launching its new program of photographic commissions titled Evolving Montreal. To document Montreal’s ongoing urban transformation, in the next few years the Museum will be commissioning well-known local photographers to explore the changes occurring in a neighbourhood of their choice.

Not to be missed!

What people are saying about it

« Walker has a master's eyes » Montreal Gazette
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