Montreal Underground Origins

As part of the Festival d’histoire de Montréal 2023, ARCMTL and Afromusée present:

Montreal Nightlife from the 1950s to the 1980s with invited guest: Charles Burke, Black Bottom Club

Free, Saturday May 13 13h – 17h

Afromusée, 533 Ontario E. métro Berri

During the interactive afternoon organized by the Afro-Canadian Museum (Afromusée) and ARCMTL, Charles Burke will share his memories of this era of Montreal nightlife, offering participants a unique insight into the city’s cultural history and the importance of these venues to the Afro-descendant communities. This is a unique opportunity to learn about Montreal’s nightlife from the 1950s to the 1980s and to meet an important figure in the city’s cultural history.

As manager of the club The Black Bottom from 1957 to the early 1980s, Charles Burke witnessed many memorable moments in Montreal’s nightlife history, including performances by such great artists as Duke Ellington, Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk.

Find out more about this cultural history on this interactive map, Nights of Montreal.

The New Penelope and its era – Call for memories!

The local non-profit archive ARCMTL is working on a book and online exhibit about the New Penelope and its era, 1965 – 1970.

For just a few years in the mid-to-late 1960s, the New Penelope became a legend in the history of Montreal music and nightlife. It was the first independent concert venue in Montreal to feature important names in 1960s rock, blues, folk and jazz, from Joni Mitchell and Muddy Waters to Frank Zappa and Jesse Winchester. All through 2023, we’re looking for anyone who remembers the era, or who may have related material such as old posters, flyers, audio or video recordings, ticket stubs and other ephemera. Please contact us if you or someone you know may be able to help! We can be reached by email at

Montreal Underground Origins

Montreal Underground Origins shines a light for current and future generations on the early days of what is now considered a thriving city of the arts. It was conceived and produced by the non-profit arts promotion and preservation organization, ARCMTL starting in 2014 and continues through 2023.

Check out our image blog to peruse excerpts and full scans of vintage photos, magazines and varied publications from the era — or go to our searchable collection of vintage Montreal magazines on the website. Our blog features a growing number of articles, interviews and discussion transcripts exploring various aspects of the 1960s – 1970s Montreal underground arts and activist scene.

Comments and discussion from the public are welcome! Anyone can post comments under each blog post on the site.

If you have any material or memories of your own to add, please email to let us know.

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