3 Little-Known Facts About Montreal’s Île Sainte-Hélène

Île Sainte-Hélène

Île Sainte-Hélène, or Saint Helen’s Island, whatever way you prefer to call it, is just to the southeast of the Island of Montreal. It’s one of many of the islands of the Hochelaga Archipelago of the St. Lawrence River or Fleuve St-Laurent.

And, Île Sainte-Hélène is one of the islands that make up the famous Parc Jean-Drapeau — the other is Île Notre-Dame.

Where Did Île Sainte-Hélène Get Its Name?

Believe it or not, Samuel de Champlain named it in honour of his wife, Hélène de Champlain, in 1611!

Later, the island was privately owned by the Le Moyne family, from 1665 to 1818. Then, the British government bought it.

Île Sainte-Hélène Was a Prisoner of War Camp!

It’s absolutely true! Saint Helen’s Island has a bit of a dark side. Did you know it was prisoner of war camp in WWII? It actually held 400 Italian civilians and merchant seamen from 1940 to 1943!

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Today, it’s the location of a new escape game (at the Steward Museum). You can play with your friends, in French or in English when it opens for the season again.

Saint Helen’s Island is Kind of Man Made

Although the island naturally existed, its area was almost doubled using 28 MILLION TONS of soil dug out to build the metro tunnels for the historic Expo ’67 that put Montreal on the world stage. (Source: Montréal By Fodor’s, Patricia Harris, David Lyon)

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