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History of the Centre Pierre-Charbonneau

 

In the mid-1950s, the City of Montreal recognized the need for the installation of a large sports complex. The authorities' approval of construction on the future Centre Maisonneuve in August of 1956 was a response to two urgent needs: firstly, to provide the Montreal Police Service with modern training and classroom facilities, and secondly, to provide the Montreal public with recreational facilities able to fulfill an increasingly pressing demand.

 

From its groundbreaking in 1957 until December 1959, construction progressed smoothly to such an extent that activities programs were offered to the public by the municipal parks service in the spring of 1960. Outfitted with a large main hall, an Olympic size swimming pool, and a 2500 square meter gymnasium, the Centre offers a wide gamut of aquatic and sports programs including volleyball, tennis, and badminton. The Montreal Police Service establishes itself in the Centre and uses its various  facilities for classroom and firearms training.

 

In addition to its original mandate, as soon as 1962, the complex sees to the implementation of a considerable sociocultural program. By 1966, the Centre Maisonneuve has become a flashpoint of Montreal's cultural life; art exhibits, special events, and a growing sense of community give form to the main hall.

 

In 1974, the organizing committee for the Olympic Games seeks to shut down operations at the Centre in order to make way for its headquarters near the future Olympic site. Outcry from the public, with the media as its tenor, momentarily halts the Centre's closing, but only until August 1975. From this date onward, through the end of the Olympics, the committee's headquarters are established in the building. It should be said that the City of Montreal was thus able to fulfill, at least in part, its stated objective of harbouring a suitable infrastructure for international sports competitions.

 

It is, however, not sufficient to have adequate infrastructure; the City's case needed to be driven by a determined set of people in order to present a solid application to the Olympics Commission. At this point, a man named Pierre Charbonneau enters the scene. An indefatigable champion of amateur sports causes in Quebec, he advanced to the presidency of the Fédération d'athlétisme du Québec as well as that of the Confédération des Sports du Québec. By 1968, mayor Drapeau had asked him to coordinate the City's candidacy as host to the XXIth Olympics. In 1972, Charbonneau is named vice-president of the sports wing of the organization committee. On September 29th 1975, he passes away after a long illness, with only a few months left before the Games. On July 30th 1976, in order to honour his memory, his name is given to the sports complex at 3000 Viau.

 

The name change is matched by a shift in direction. The Centre Pierre-Charbonneau opens itself up to the needs of the population and ceases to serve as a training school for police. The pool space is refashioned into a multipurpose room; a synthetic floor is installed, and the stands can seat up to 2000 people during competitions. The gymnasium is also subject to serious renovation.

 

 

 On December 23rd 1982, the Association Socio-Culturelle et Sportive du Centre Pierre-Charbonneau is founded. This not-for-profit organization represents the centre's clientele to relevant authorities in order to advocate for quality, accessible leisure facilities suited to the population's needs. The centre offers pottery, weaving, and fine arts classes, in addition to its established sports activities. In both domains, emphasis is placed on the implementation of community living. The important role played by the centre in youth amateur sports is confirmed in 1986 as it hosts the national gymnastics team in its multipurpose room.

 

Indecision has often proved an obstacle to the Association's mandate. In September of 1989, for example, rumours abounded that the centre would be demolished in order to make way for a sports facility similar or more important in size than the Forum. In late November, following another outcry by the population, the idea is abandoned. Today, the centre is still in place, and people have adopted it. Its vocation is increasingly thorough : quality leisure services must be provided; they must be accessible; they must build and maintain a stimulating social life for the population. Its actions must communicate, loud and clear, that

 

THE CENTRE PIERRE-CHARBONNEAU IS A PLACE FOR EVERYONE.

© 2011 Centre Pierre-Charbonneau. All rights reserved. 
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