The 100+ Year Old Giants of St. James Street in Montreal

Benoit Rochon

Located at 535 Viger St. East in the Gilles-Hoquart Building in the Latin Quarter of Montreal are the Giants of St. James Street of the Center of Archives in Montreal (Le Centre d’Archives de Montreal).

These 4 majestic Giants stand proud at almost 5 m each! They once stood on the facade of the head office of the Royal Bank of Canada Building in Old Montreal. 

They represented the contribution of the bank toward the four pillars of last century’s economy: agriculture, fishing, industry, and transportation. As such, each statue was depicted along with one symbol: a maple leaf and a sheaf of wheat, a fish, an oil can, and a locomotive.

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For 80 years, the Montreal St. James Street Giants stood over the four columns of the bank, located at what is now 221 Saint-Jacques Street and what was once 147 St. James Street.

The St. James Street Giants were removed from the Old Montreal bank’s facade to preserve them in 1991 when the building underwent a major renovation. Sadly, one lost a hand during the transport.

For fear that the Giants would be sold on the art market, the richest family in Quebec, the Demarais family stepped in. They had the statues restored and later donated them to the National Archives of Quebec in 1999.

They now stand protected in the Fine Arts Building of what was once HEC.

The giant statues were created by the American sculptor, Henry Augustus in 1907. He also sculpted numerous other incredible works of art in the United States.

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