On May 15, 1902, a Federal Act incorporated the Montreal Subway Co., whose mission was to open up, build and operate a subway or subways, both for railways and roadways, under the river and facing the Island of Montreal ... with streets and underground passages on each side of the St. Lawrence river. In 1910, three business groups introduced as many projects to the Quebec Legislature with the hope to be awarded the right to build and operate an underground railway in Montreal. Thomas W. Peel and his associates failed in their bid to set up The Montreal Underground and Elevated Railway Co., their private bill being voted down on its third reading. The Suburban Tramway and Power Co., which was already operating a tramway system in Montreal, was granted the right to change its charter and name to the Public Service Corporation, but the amending bill that would have given this corporation even greater power was turned down also on a third reading. But the Montreal Street Railway Co., the largest transit provider in Montreal at that time, won approval by Quebec lawmakers and a four-year time limit was set for work to begin.
What appears to be the first well-documented underground railway project in Montreal dates back to 1910. In that year, the Montreal Central Terminal Co. (MCTC), established in 1890 as the Montreal Bridge Co., was awarded by the federal government the right to build not only a bridge over the St. Lawrence but also a tunnel under it connecting Montreal to the South Shore. The MCTC drew up plans to realize this project and, in 1910, carried out numerous steps to this effect. On December 31, 1910, MCTC president Mr. Armstrong presented to the representatives of the City of Montreal a gigantic project of a double-track tunnel under the St. Lawrence leading to a downtown station from which would radiate an underground railway network going east, west and north. Armstrong was not asking for any direct funding from the City, but had an understanding that the MCTC would be given some free reins in taxation and related matters in exchange. Having failed earlier in its project to build a bridge across the St. Lawrence River, the MCTC would invest lots of energy to try to carry this project through. Looking at the exchange of letters kept in the archives of the City of Montreal, it seems that some railway companies solidly established in Montreal fought vigorously against the project. And the project was to fall through a few years later.
In conclusion to his letter of December 31, 1910, Armstrong said, this project is of such a magnitude that a lot of time is required to analyze it through and through. This advice was taken quite literally, as numerous other projects would come and go before work began on May 23, 1962