Pointe-Claire is an on-island suburb of Montreal in Quebec, Canada. Pointe-Claire is largely residential in character, but is also the site of a lot of economic activity, such as retail activity, light manufacturing, various corporate offices, and a hospital. The symbol of the town is the Pointe-Claire Windmill.
Pointe-Claire was first described by Nicolas Perrot in his account of 1669, and the name Pointe-Claire appeared on a map as early as 1686. Although Samuel de Champlain canoed through the area in 1613, he reported no village or dwelling visible. The toponym Pointe-Claire refers to the peninsula, or point, where the windmill, convent, and the Saint-Joachim de Pointe-Claire Church are sited. The point extends into Lake Saint-Louis and has a clear view of its surroundings.
The first grant of land under the seigneurial system was in 1684 to Pierre Cabassier, for a lot just east of Pointe Charlebois. Under the seigneurial system, the Selpicians had to build a mill for the colonists, who in turn had to grind their grain there at a set fee.
In 1707, after the Great Peace of Montreal was signed in 1701, the Chemin du Roy (now Lakeshore Road) from Dorval to the western tip of Montreal Island was opened having been ordered by intendant Jacques Raudot, and the parish was subdivided in three côtes: St. Rémy (present-day Boulevard-des-Sources), St. Jean and St. Charles. Between côtes St. Rémy and St. Charles lay 33 lots (numbered 145 to 177). These were generally three arpents wide by 20 or 30 deep. Up to this time Pointe-Claire had only been accessible by boat.
In 1713 the seminary formed a parish on the land that now includes Pointe-Claire and much of the West Island, and in 1714 a church was built at the point, at the site of the present-day church. Up to that time the area was served by an itinerant missionary priest. Initially the church was called Sain-Francois-de-Sales, but it was renamed six months later to Saint-Joachim de la pointe claire. The church and presbytery, both built of stone, formed a fort about two arpents (7000 m²) in area, surrounded by stakes. The construction was ordered by Governor Beauharnois our of fear of the Iroquois. The point was used as a stopover by voyageurs en route for the back country.
In 1728-9 the first lots were granted, near the fort, to a blacksmith and to a carpenter. By 1765 there were 783 residents, 74 lots owned by 35 individuals, and 19 houses, some built of stone, but most of wood.
In 1854 the municipality of Saint-Joachim-de-la-Pointe-Claire was defined, and the name eventually shortened to Pointe-Claire.
The Grand Trunk Railway built a line in 1855, linking Pointe-Claire to Montreal. This brought people, and with them property development in an area that up to then had been largely agricultural. It also improved the welfare of farmers by providing a ready market for their goods. Suburban development began in 1893 when Otto Frederick Lilly acquired land spanning Boulevard Saint Jean. He used his influence with the Canadian Pacific Railway to have a station added to the line at the end of Cedar avenue, which he also paved from there down to Lakeshore Road. Both sides of Cedar Avenue were built up by 1920. Provincial highway number 2 (now Autoroute 20) was built alongside the railway in 1940, following expropriation of property. This led to a move of the much of the town from the south to the north of the highway, namely the town hall, recreation centre, police station, and fire station.
After the British North America Act of 1867 Pointe-Claire was included in the new federal riding of Jacques Cartier. In the election of the 7th of August, the men (suffrage did not extend to women until 1940) of Pointe-Claire elected the Conservative Guillaume Gamelin Gaucher.
In 1900 a major fire destroyed much of village. It was discovered in an uninhabited building around 02:00 on the morning of 22 May. The wind caused the fire to spread to surrounding houses. The only water supply was from village wells or carried in buckets from the river. A small two-wheeled hose reel and hand pump was the only village fire protection. Locals failed to put out the fire and asked for help from Montreal. Equipment was sent by train but did not arrive in time to help. The worst of the damage was on the rue de l'église. In all about 30 buildings were destroyed, including the post office, the town hall, and the residences of about 200 people.
In 2002, as part of the 2002–2006 municipal reorganization of Montreal, Pointe-Claire was merged into Montreal and became a borough. However, after political changes (Quebec general election, 2003 and the Quebec municipal referendums, 2004) it was re-constituted as an independent city in 2006.