Griffintown began as a land grant given to Jeanne Mance by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve in 1654. (Burman, Stories: pg 1) The area, Nazareth Fief, was used mainly for farming with proceeds going towards the city’s poor. The fief slowly developed, and in 1698 a chapel dedicated to St. Anne was built amoung the few taverns and shops. (Ibid.)
Nazareth Fief gained its distinctly Irish name in 1796. The proprietor of the region, Thomas McCord, had been doing business in Great Britain when his rights to the land were sold to Mary Griffin without his consent. (Ibid.)The land bordered the long-planned Lachine Canal project which would facilitate trade and industry in the area by allowing ships to bypass the Lachine Rapids.
As a result of the canal and the potential for industrialization, the fief was desireable land for developers . Griffin drew plans to subdivide the region into small lots designed for the projected influx of workers,(See map below) with the profits being split between herself and the Sisters of the Hotel Dieu. (Burman, Stories: pg 1) When McCord returned and challenged the sale, the city ruled in his favour, though the area would remain known as Griffintown.