[ Redpath Mansion, front view ]

Unknown, Redpath Sugar Museum, Both the Redpath house and the David Morrice house, which shows in the background of this photograph, were designed by the same architect, John James Browne. Surrounded by mature trees and ornamental lawns, the stately architecture was typical of Square Mile mansions

Studying places of the past allows us to “picture” everyday events, as well as extraordinary ones, such as murder and suicide. We can visit places that have survived the test of time and we can study those that have been demolished or changed beyond recognition. Just as a novelist or playwright might use elaborate descriptions of a place to make his or her story seem realistic to an audience, historic events become much more convincing when we learn about the environment that framed them. Visiting the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, for example, makes the Conquest of 1759 much more real than reading about it in a book. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a place is worth a million.

The architectural settings of the Redpath family tragedy are windows on daily life in Montreal’s Square Mile. The Redpath family home at 1065 Sherbrooke where the shootings occurred, the nearby hospital to which Clifford was apparently rushed, and the numerous city landmarks commissioned and endowed by the Redpath family are typical Victorian-era buildings. Without exception, they were designed by well known architects, whose pedigrees and expertise added considerable cachet to the family’s identity and self image.