Culture By Vicky Fragasso-Marquis 1869 Views

Quebec declares Arvida neighbourhood in Saguenay a heritage site

MONTREAL—The Quebec government has recognized the Arvida neighbourhood in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region as a heritage site.

The status protecting former the industrial town — now a historic neighbourhood that falls within the limits of the City of Saguenay — was announced Sunday by Culture Minister Nathalie Roy.

The area, located about 250 kilometres north of Quebec City, was founded by Arthur Vining Davis, the U.S.-born head of the Aluminum Company of America, who developed the remote area in the 1920s to welcome employees of the first Alcoa aluminum plant, later known as Alcan.

The name Arvida comes from the first two letters of the first, middle and last names of its founder.

Its distinctive architecture, urban planning and landscaping as well as its historical character led the federal government to declare Arvida a national historic site in 2012.

Lucie K. Morisset, an urban planning professor at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal and author of a book on the town, said part of that richness is how the town was designed and built. It was an ambitious project constructed in three phases between 1925 and 1950.

“Over 25 years, they constructed over 2000 homes using 125 different models,” said Morisset. “They were constructed with technological means quite innovative for the time, which allowed, for example, for the first district in the city of Arvida to build 270 houses in 135 days.”

Arvida was much more than an urban planning and housing project — it was also a societal project built on equality among its residents, Morisset said.