Jean Dumontier, architect and artist of Montreal subway stations, dies

An outdoor metro sign in Montreal at night. STM Archives

Jean Dumontier, an architect who helped designed Montreal’s subway, has died in his early 80s.

A spokesperson for the city’s transit agency confirmed the death, which Montreal’s La Presse reported was due to cancer.

“The (agency) learns with much sadness of the departure of a great builder of Montreal’s metro, and underlines the important heritage he leaves to Montrealers and especially the hundreds of thousands of clients who use the network daily,” the Société de Transport de Montréal said in a statement.

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The native of Labelle, in the Laurentians area north of Montreal, designed the plans for the now-renamed Île-Sainte-Hélène and Longueuil metro stations, which were among the flagship stations opened just before the 1967 World Fair.

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He was also the first architect to create the art for the stations he designed, including four painted concrete murals in the Île-Sainte-Hélène station, since renamed after former mayor Jean Drapeau.

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The distinctive yellow murals represent the character of Atlas, who in Greek mythology was condemned to hold up the heavens. They were created to tie in with the Expo 67 theme of “man and his world,” according to the agency’s website.

Dumontier later served as the metropolitan transit agency’s architecture director in the 1970s and 80s, where he oversaw the subway system’s expansion.

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He pushed for lofty spaces featuring natural light and the inclusion of the large scale sculptures, murals and paintings which have since become the network’s hallmark, the agency said.

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“He favoured the integration of works of art in each station, a characteristic that still distinguishes Montreal’s metro from other networks in the world,” it said.

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