Piche, Alphonse

PICHE, Alphonse (1874-1938) was born in Montreal, Que. on 18 January 1874, son of Alexis Piche, a building contractor. He was educated at schools there, and articled with W. McLea Walbank from 1893 to 1901. He joined the Province of Quebec Association of Architects on 9 August 1898, and after opening his own office in 1901 he succeeded in obtaining several important commissions for institutional and commercial projects. These included a substantial ten storey fireproof office block for Mark Fisher & Sons, Victoria Square (1906), the design of which he virtually copied ten years later when he drew plans for a similar block for the Montreal Land Investment Co. on St. Laurent Blvd. (1917). The largest commission which he completed during his career was the dull and bleak Beaux-Arts design for Jean de Breboeuf College (1928). Piche was a competent though conservative architect, and his designs are orthodox products of the time. Not a single work stands out as being innovative or progressive. He adhered to the formalism of late 19th C. French planning, clearly evident in his renderings of the ambitious master plan for the Grey Nun's Orphanage campus in west end Montreal. An illustrated bird's eye perspective of his proposal appeared in 1912 (C.R., xxvi, 4 Dec. 1912, 47, illus. & descrip.) but only two buildings from master plan appear to have been built during the following decade.

Ironically, the most significant work which Piche is associated with is not a building, but rather a steel tower situated on Mount Royal. Built in the shape of a Holy Cross, this 100 foot high structure was designed in 1924 and commissioned by the St. Jean Baptiste Society of Montreal to mark St. Jean Baptiste Day on 24 June 1924. The Cross still dominates the skyline of downtown Montreal, and has become a distinctive landmark and potent symbol for the City. It was finally lit with electric lights on 24 December 1924, and is visible from a distance of nearly 80 kilometres to the south and east. A full description of the design by Piche for this tower was published in several Montreal newspapers, and republished in the Hartford Courant [Hartford, Conn.] on 28 March 1924, 14, descrip.

Piche died in Montreal on 10 November 1938 (death notice La Presse [Montreal], 10 Nov. 1938, 35; biog. and port. Who's Who and Why in Canada, 1925-26, 333; Biographies Canadiennes Francaises, v, 1925, 140). A photographic portrait of Piche can be found in the Board of Trade Illustrated Edition of Montreal, 1909, 105.


MONTREAL CARRIAGE LEATHER CO., St. Ambroise Street, office and warehouse, 1901 (Le Prix Courant, xxxi, 29 March 1901, 486)
H.R. IVES & CO., Prince Street, warehouse, 1902 (C.R., xiii, 10 Sept. 1902, 2)
BLOOMFIELD STREET, residence for P.O. Nadeau, 1903 (Le Prix Courant, xxxv, 19 June 1903, 43)
(with J. Cajetan Dufort) ST. CUNEGONDE CITY HALL, Vinet Street, 1904 (C.R., xiv, 2 Dec. 1903, 1; Montreal, Les Edifices Publics, 1981, 124-5, illus.)
LACHINE, factory for Henry J. Fisk & Co., 1905 (Le Prix Courant, Week No. 41, 1904, 56)
MONTREAL CHINA & GLASS DECORATING CO., St. Paul Street, factory for J.M. Gelz, 1904 (Le Prix Courant, Week No. 41, 56)
LYMBURNER & MATTHEWS LTD., Commissioners Street at St. Francis Street, factory, 1905 (Le Prix Courant, Week No. 6, 1905, 50)
TROY STEAM LAUNDRY CO. LTD., Troy Avenue, Verdun, factory and laundry works, 1905 (Le Prix Courant, Week No. 32, 1905, 60)
GARNIER STREET, near Parc Lafontaine, warehouse for E. Lapointe, 1905 (Le Prix Courant, Week No. 42, 1905, 50)
WESTMOUNT, residences for Dr. Cardinal, and for H. Martin, Grosvenor Street, 1905 (Le Prix Courant, Week No. 48, 1905, 61)
EGLISE ST. AGNES, St. Denis Street near Duluth Street, 1905 (La Presse [Montreal], 10 April 1905, 8, illus. & descrip.; 3 Feb. 1906, 22, illus. & descrip.)
OUTREMONT, residence for R.E. Cox, McCulloch Avenue, 1906 (Le Prix Courant, , Week No. 7, 1906, 55; Outremont b.p. 60, 13 June 1906)
ST. ANTOINE STREET, near Brandon Avenue, tenement for H. Martin, 1906 (Le Prix Courant, Week No. 31, 1906, 44)
NOTRE DAME STREET WEST, near Vinet Street, addition to theatre for L.A. Nadeau, 1906 (Le Prix Courant, Week No. 46, 1906, 46)
MARK FISHER & SONS CO., Victoria Square at Craig Street West, store and warehouse, 1906 (C.R., xvii, 28 March 1906, 4, t.c.; Montreal Daily Star, 5 May 1906, 6, descrip. & illus.; C.A.B., xxi, March 1908, 20, illus.)
FABRE STREET, near Mount Royal Avenue, two houses for O. Belanger, 1907 (Le Prix Courant, Week No. 24, 1907, 44)
READING STREET, near Charlevoix Street, residence for Tancrede Rivest, 1907 (Le Prix Courant, Week No. 39, 1907, 46)
ACADEMIE RICHARD, Galt Street, 1908 (Montreal, Les Edifices Scolaires, 1980, 196-7, illus.; dwgs. NAC, Walbank Coll., 72/6103)
MARQUETTE STREET, near Marie-Anne Street, two tenements for E. Lapointe, 1908 (Le Prix Courant, Week No. 33, 1908, 42)
ST. ANTOINE STREET, near Brandon Avenue, two tenements for H. Martin, 1908 (Le Prix Courant, Week No. 39, 1908, 22)
VERDUN, residence for Zenon Charland, Wellington Street, 1908-09 (C.R., xxii, 2 Dec. 1908, 27)
MOUNT ROYAL AVENUE EAST, near Chambord Street, row of three stores with apartments, 1909 (Le Prix Courant, Week 16, 1909, 46)
MELROSE AVENUE, residence for John Costigan, 1909 (C.R., xxiii, 22 Sept. 1909, 21, t.c.)
HIBERNIA ROAD, store and residence for John Steton, 1909 (C.R., xxiii, 22 Sept. 1909, 22, t.c.)
BREWSTER AVENUE, public baths for the St. Cunegonde and St. Henri Wards, 1909-10 (C.R., xxiii, 8 Dec. 1909, 22)
H. GATEHOUSE COLD STORAGE CO., Dorchester Street near Brunswick Street, warehouse, 1910 (C.R., xxiv, 27 July 1910, 26, t.c.)
O'CONNELL BATHS, St. Ann's Ward, 1911 (C.R., xxv, 17 May 1911, 59)
CITY HALL AVENUE, at Dorchester Street, two apartment houses for Mrs. Desaulniers, 1912 (C.R., xxvi, 13 March 1912, 68, t.c.)
LONGUE POINTE POLICE & FIRE STATION, Notre Dame Street East at Beagrand Street, 1913 (La Presse [Montreal], 2 Aug. 1913, 25, illus.; C.R., xxvii, 17 Sept. 1913, 70)
WESTMOUNT POST OFFICE, Greene Avenue at Western Avenue, 1913 (C.R., xxvii, 30 July 1913, 68; La Presse [Montreal], 14 Nov. 1913, 8, illus.; Canada, Sessional Papers, 1915, Report of the Chief Architect, 18)
CATHOLIC ORPHANAGE, Decarie Avenue at Cote St. Luc Road, 1914 (C.R., xxviii, 30 Sept. 1914, 61, t.c.; Montreal, Les Couvents, 1984, 298-9, illus.; dwgs. NAC, Walbank Coll. 72/6103)
ST. LAWRENCE BOULEVARD, at Le Royer Street, warehouse for the Greater Montreal Land Investment Co., 1917 (C.R., xxxi, 23 May 1917, 459, illus. & descrip.)
COUVENT DES SOEURS GRISES, Dorchester Boulevard West, reconstruction of the west wing, 1918; kitchen block, 1932 (Montreal, Les Couvents, 1984, 94-101, illus.)
OUTREMONT, residence for C. Michael Morssen, Springgrove Avenue, 1922 (C.R., xxxvi, 20 Sept. 1922, 58; xxxix, 8 April 1925, 357, illus. & descrip.; Outremont b.p. 1523, 13 June 1922)
MOUNT ROYAL, Holy Cross, an iron and steel tower overlooking the downtown area of Montreal, commissioned by the St. Jean Baptiste Society of Montreal, 1924 (Hartford Courant [Hartford, Conn.], 28 March 1924, 14, descrip.)
LOYOLA COLLEGE, Sherbrooke Street West, addition of two floors to main block, 1926 (C.R., xl, 16 June 1926, 52; Montreal, Les Couvents, 1984, 216-27, illus.)
COLLEGE JEAN DE BREBOEUF, Ste. Catherine Road at Decelles Avenue, 1928 (C.R., xlii, 8 Feb. 1928, 58; Le Devoir [Montreal], 9 June 1928, 7, illus. and detailed architectural descrip.; R.A.I.C. Journal, viii, Oct. 1931, xiii, illus. in advert.; Montreal, Les Couvents, 1984, 44-9, illus.)
OUTREMONT, residence for Albert Deschamps, Maplewood Avenue, 1928 (C.R., xlii, 3 Oct. 1928, 61; Outremont b.p. 2518, 12 April 1929)
COLLEGE ST. IGNACE, Bellechasse Street, 1929 (Montreal, Les Couvents, 1984, 60-1, illus.)
NAZARETH INSTITUTE FOR THE BLIND, Queen Mary Road at Miller Avenue, 1930-31 (C.R., xliv, 6 Aug. 1930, 70; Montreal, Les Edifices Publics, 1981, 132-5, illus.)
ECOLE ST. JOSEPH, Cremazie Boulevard at Rousselot Street, 1930 (C.R., xliv, 18 June 1930, 86; Montreal, Les Couvents, 1984, 126-9, illus.)


BEACONSFIELD, QUE., residence for J. Widmer Nelles, 1909 (C.R., xxiii, 20 Oct. 1909, 21)
RIVIERE DES PRAIRIES, QUE., residence on Jesus Island for P.E. Nadeau, 1910 (C.R., xxiv, 27 April 1910, 29, t.c.)
ST. LAURENT, Grey Nuns Orphanage complex, including Mother House, Boy's School, and Girl's School, Cote de Leisse Road, begun 1913-14; completed 1923-25 (La Presse [Montreal], 9 Nov. 1912, 29, illus.; C.R., xxvi, 4 Dec. 1912, 47, illus. & descrip.; Montreal, Les Couvents, 1984, 106-09, illus.)
REPENTIGNY, QUE., residence for J. St. Georges, 1923 (Le Prix Courant, lvi, 3 Aug. 1923, 32)
SUDBURY, ONT., college for the Jesuit Fathers, 1926 (C.R., xl, 3 March 1926, 60)
MONTREAL WEST, QUE., Presbyterian Church, Nelson Street at Ballantyne Avenue, 1928 (R.A.I.C. Journal, v, June 1928, 213)
ST. JOHN'S, QUE., hospital, Jacques Cartier Street, 1932 (C.R., xlvi, 6 Jan. 1932, 45)