Montréal Underground Origins Blog

An alternative guide to 1974 Montreal: Montréal Insolite, pt. 2

15.06.2015

The Northwest parts of Montreal

In the West of the city, it’s the “great coldness” ….nightlife is almost non-existent. It must be said that our conquerors quickly divided the city so that to the west, you can find independent cities that are almost “forbidden areas” for nocturnal wildlife. Thus, neither “The town of Mount Royal” or Outremont allow the establishment of nightclubs within their boundaries … same situation in Westmount.

We only find a nightlife embryo in Notre-Dame de Grâce.

Northwest, mainly off the Décarie highway, there are great restaurants like Ruby Foo’s, Rib and Reef, The Stage Coach, Piazza Tomasso, etc., where English-speaking clients like to go. The nearing Blue Bonnets’ horse racing rack brings in large crowds and at midnight, the area is teeming with activity.

In the northern area of Montreal, there are several high-class restaurants and some very posh nightclubs.

Université de Montréal.

Université de Montréal.

Near the University of Montreal, on Edouard-Montpetit Street, a mini-Latin Quarter is being born … although it is in the making for over 20 years! Indeed, although the University has been on the mountain for almost 30 years, the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood never acquired the student feel it had when the University was located on Saint-Denis, downtown.

There are a few clubs where students meet up: the Café-Campus on Decelles, Chez Vito, Crazy Horse and a few other clubs on Côte-des-Neiges, but that’s it.

Also, a neo black colony seems to settle in the area. About 20,000 blacks immigrated to Montreal from the Caribbean and West Indies in the past ten years or so.

They apparently opted for the Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood where they bring their exuberance and culture, adding a unique character to the local nightlife.

Again, however, the nightlife remains relatively calm.

Northeast, there are a few high-class restaurants like Chez Bardet on Henri-Bourassa Street, probably the best French restaurant in the city. The seafood lovers can enjoy their favourites dishes at la Barrique on Fleury Street and at Coquille on Metropolitan Boulevard. It is in this area that you can find the most popular nightclub in Montreal: Maxim’s on Lajeunesse. But apart from that club, it’s dead calm.

Ruby Foo's, 7815 Boul. Décarie 1974

Ruby Foo’s, 7815 Boul. Décarie 1974

Restaurants

Chez Bardet
591 est, Boul. Henri-Bourassa 381-1777.
Certainement l’un des meilleurs restaurants français en Amérique du Nord. On y prépare une cuisine classique mais absolument parfaite. Entre autres choses nous vous recommandons le Steak à la Clermont et les quenelles. Prix chers et vins de choix.

Le Mongol,
9695 St-Laurent 381-7777.
Un excellent restaurant où la cuisine chinoise est à l’honneur. Prix modérés.

New Granada Restaurant.
9920 St-Laurent 384-1522.
Bonne cuisine française. Le rôti de boeuf est divin. Prix modérés.

Le Gobelet
8405 St-Laurent
Jusqu’à récemment seuls les hommes y avaient accès. Cette taverne de style typiquement canadien est maintenant une brasserie et les femmes y sont maintenant admises. On sert la bière en fût dans d’immenses bocks et on peut manger une cuisine canadienne de choix. Les tourtières et les fèves au lard au canard sont à recommander. Un endroit qu’il ne faut pas manquer de visiter d’autant plus que les prix sont bon marché.

St-Hubert Bar-B-Cue
6355 rue St-Hubert
Si Madame désire magasiner, elle pourra profiter d’une visite sur la Plaza St-Hubert pour goûter au poulet du St-Hubert Bar-B-Cue. Tous les montréalais en ont mangé un jour ou l’autre et il est excellent. Prix modérés.

La Diligence
7385 Boul. Décarie
Style américain. Spécialités, steaks et fruits de mer. Prix chers.

Ruby Foo’s
7815 Boul. Décarie 731-7701.
Dans l’ouest Ruby Foo’s est véritablement le rendez-vous des noctambules. Vous avez le choix entre une cuisine française et une cuisine chinoise, toutes deux de première qualité. À recommander la Bouillabaisse marseillaise, les steaks et toute une collection de mets chinois. Toutefois, il faut y mettre le prix.

Rib’n Beef
8105 Boul. Décarie
Spécialités, steaks et fruits de mer
Prix raisonnables.

Piazza Tamasso
8205 Boul. Décarie 739-6331.
Meilleur restaurant italien du nord-ouest de la métropole.

Le Roi du Smoke Meat
6705 St-Hubert 273-7566
Si vous aimez le smoke meat, c’est le meilleur endroit pour en consommer dans le nord de Montréal.

Aéroport de Montréal.

Aéroport de Montréal.

Hôtels-Motels

Chez Maxim’s
10151 Boul. Lajeunesse 387-6211
Classe 3

Capri Seaway Hotel
6445 Boul Décarie 739-2771
Classe 3

Holiday inn Châteaubriand
6500 Côte-de-Liesse 739-3391
Classe 3

Holiday Inn Seigneurie
7300 Côte-de-Liesse 731-7751
Classe 3

Chez Tonton
9107 Bout. Lajeunesse 389-8213
Classe 3

Fleur-de-Lys
7900 Côte-de-Liesse 733-8223
Classe 3

Grand Motor Hotel
7700 Côte-de-Liesse 731-7821
Classe 3

International Motel
13000 Côte-de-liesse 631-4811
Classe 3

Le Séville Hotel
4545 Côte Vertu 332-2720
Classe 3

Metro Motel
9925 Lajeunesse 381-2577
Classe 4

Motel Attaché
10195 Boul. Lajeunesse 389-8434
Classe 4

Motel Pierre
2375 Laurentien 332-3060
Classe 3

Airport-Hilton
12505 Côte-de-Liesse 631-2411
Classe 1

Capitol Hotel
357 Van Horne 279-3278
Classe 4

Montréal Insolite

Clubs de nuits

Beer Garden Bavarois
20 Crémazie Est
Grand orchestre bavarois tous les soirs.

Café Evangéline
7067 St-Hubert
Rendez-vous de tous les gaspésiens.
En fin de semaine, ça “swinge”. Bar typique du quartier.

Café Palermo
4493 Iberville
Piano-Bar et danseuses.

Caves de l’abbaye
Holiday Inn
6500 Côte-de-Liesse
Atmosphère tout à fait spéciale. De joyeux moinillons vous font danser et chanter tout en vous offrant les meilleurs vins de la cave. À visiter.

Café Chez Émile
11801 Norwood
(Près du Boul. Gouin face à la prison de Bordeaux).
Une magnifique terrasse donne sur la rivières des Prairies. Atmosphère spéciale en soirée.

Chez le père Mousse
5320 av. du Parc.
Sous le restaurant Chez son Père.
Une boîte typique, très classique.

Le Monocle
5666 Côte-des-Neiges
Café terrasse et discothèque… aussi excellent restaurant.

Le Sextuple
Bernard et St-Laurent
Une boîte où le striptease est à l’honneur.

Café Campus
3315 Reine Marie
Le rendez-vous des étudiants et des étudiantes de l’Université de Montréal. Spectacle de choix.

Chez Maxim’s
10151 Boul. Lajeunesse
Certainement la discothèque la plus populaire de Montréal. L’atmosphère y est chaleureuse et on y vient de tous les coins de la métropole.

Café Belhumeur
4145 Boul. Gouin
Spectacle.

Crazy Horse Saloon
5408 Côte-des-Neiges
Excellent Steak house avec café-terrasse et discothèque. Les plus jolies filles du quartier le fréquentent.

Special places

Montréal Insolite

Montréal Insolite

Montréal Insolite

Do not miss St. Joseph’s Oratory, located near the campus of the University of Montreal as well as the magnificent Mount Royal Park. You must walk up to the mountain’s chalet and around Beaver Lake.

You can admire the prettiest girls and see unusual things like a nudist in action.

The tourist has to take Camilien Houde Blvd to get to the top of the mountain. Then a walk in nature will allow him to contemplate a spectacular landscape. By returning through the west side, you get close to the Oratory situated on Queen Mary Rd. and the University campus located on Edouard Montpetit.

Downtown

Montréal Insolite

The city centre is really the heart of Montreal’s nightlife. And depending on the direction you take, you can feel the influence of neighbourhoods located on the outskirts.

The city’s centre, that is to say from Saint-Laurent to Papineau, has a particularly French character while to the west, English tends to predominate.

On Saint-Denis, a bit above Sherbrooke, you are in the middle of the Republic of the Saint-Louis Square, a small spot where the intellectual clubs, hashish and marijuana smells haunt you from the sidewalk.

This is the stronghold of the intellectual hippies of French culture.

There are psychedelic clubs like Osstid-plass, excellent restaurants like La Grenouille et le Boeuf, the EI Barrio Latino or the Swiss Mazot.

Facing the St. Denis Theatre, one can have coffee in several small places such as the Picasso, the Saint-Mâlo and the Galoche, to discuss philosophy, literature, sex… or independence.

A little further down, the Dorchester area is infused with German culture with a cathedral dedicated to Bavarian art. The facade of the Vieux Munich will certainly surprise you. Its rococo interior and its equally faux décor will perhaps make purists frown. Still, the food is excellent, just like the music from the great Bavarian band that plays in the centre of this huge building that can hold over 1,000 people- and it’s usually full.

Montréal Insolite

There you can drink beer by the gallon… and dance in the aisles to aid digestion.

As paradoxical as it may seem, in a city where English culture and French culture coexist and intertwine, it is a typical German cabaret that has the most success.

Going down a little lower, crossing the new fortifications that are now known as the East-West Highway, the visitor is suddenly brought two hundred years back. You’ve arrived in Old Montreal where the old has a modern twist.

St. Denis Street leads directly to the Bonsecours Church, the oldest chapel of the metropolis, with its Madonna that looks over the Port of Montreal.

Along the Bonsecours Street, amid assorted shops, authentic crafts and souvenirs “made in Japan,” you can admire the Papineau house… and other buildings that date back to the late eighteenth century.

Turning right, St. Paul Street is like a journey to the past. Facing the ex-Bonsecours Market, which after a long restoration now houses the technical services of the City of Montreal, there are an array of shops and excellent restaurants. At Les Filles du Roy, the Vieux Montréal, at La Catalogne and at the Trois Masques you can taste typical Quebec cuisine and best local drinks. Further down, you arrive at Place Jacques-Cartier. In the background, on the top of the hill, stands the Montreal City Hall…

Right on La Place, there is the Nelson Hotel where Robert Lemieux had his headquarters during the 1970 October Crisis… the same place where 1837 conspirators once met!

Montréal Insolite

On the other side of the street, there are many outdoor cafes of true Parisian style.

In the complex of the Hotel Iroquois, there is a hippie disco, La Place, a “boîte à chansons“ in addition to two terraces that are always filled to capacity.

During summer weekends, it is almost impossible to move around Place Jacques-Cartier as thousands of young people meet here to frolic around the flower market before enjoying a beer on the terrace of one the many surrounding cafes.

This is a favourite hunting ground for professional flirters.

This year, the Saint-Amable Street is hosting a hundred artists that sell their works on the sidewalk… in the style of Du Trésor Street in Quebec City.

Montréal Insolite

The Saint-Amable restaurant that occupies the basement and first floor of the Del Vecchio house is recognized for its excellent French cuisine.

A little higher, on Place Jacques-Cartier, is the Corsair where seafood is simply divine. You can walk from Saint-Amable Street to reach Saint-Vincent Street, where you can find one of the most typical spot of Old Montreal, l’Auberge de la Mère Vincent, where people go to sing old songs while drinking a Molson draft.

Just opposite, la Boutique des Cent Associés is where you can find authentic pieces of our Quebec artisans’ work.

On the south side of Saint-Paul Street, there is the Vieux Damase, a club with a poetic atmosphere where we can hear our best singers. This club is the counterpart of la Mère Vincent but it caters to a slightly older crowd.

A little further on, still on Saint-Paul Street, there is a very trendy nightclub called the Marquis de Sade, which also has an excellent restaurant open during daytime. It is the favourite spot for tasteful flirters.

Just in front there is the only jazz club that still exists in Montreal. However, the shows are held only during the weekend.

Montréal Insolite

Going up on St. Gabriel Street we pass the oldest inn in North America. Le Vieux Saint-Gabriel is known around the world. Its owner Mr. Rosaire Despelteaux is a character that must be met. And he has developed a very interesting complex in an authentic Canadian style.

Notre Dame Street, facing what looks like a huge warehouse but that is actually the municipal courthouse, one can notice an anachronism! An English-style steak house with a sign of a shocking red. If the sign is in poor taste, the steak, on the other hand, is delicious and very affordable.

The neighbourhood abounds in excellent restaurants. If you continue on Notre Dame, you can wave at the church of the same name, temple in a Canadian-Gothic style that you should not miss.

The pedestrian can cross Place d’Armes and take a look at the statue of Sieur de Maisonneuve a statue that pigeons seem to be very fond of. You should then find the only hole in the wall of the East-West Highway, St. Urbain Street, and head to Dorchester Street.

Ce qui reste de notre "Chinatown". What remains of our "Chinatown."

Ce qui reste de notre “Chinatown”. What remains of our “Chinatown.”

By the way you can admire what is left of our “Chinatown.” There are excellent Chinese restaurants that will likely be demolished within a year or two to make room for a huge administrative complex.

On Dorchester Street, there are the headquarters of Hydro-Quebec where Premier Robert Bourassa has offices in. Nearby, a huge construction site of feverish activity, Place Desjardins, is the first high-rise financed by the savings of Quebecers.

At the back, between mechanical cranes and concrete trucks, you can distinguish the Place des Arts. From this angle it seems crushed by concrete.

Heading towards the west you arrive at Place Ville-Marie. The prettiest girls in Montreal eventually cross there one day or another. It is necessary to take a break and admire the nature, especially around noon when all the surrounding offices empty themselves, literally.

We are now in full English quarter. Going up Sainte-Catherine Street, you have to look back, to the right.

Montréal Insolite

At Phillips Square and the opposite old Anglican church, you’ll notice a few dozen “hippies” loitering around. This is the English version of the Republic of Carré Saint-Louis

On McGill College between Cathcart and Ste-Catherine, you’ll notice a dozen artists who display their works on the walls, portraitists who draw interesting heads with charcoal and craftsmen who manufacture locally made sandals and leather belts. Another street, Saint-Amable, is of Anglo-Saxon flavour.

The intersection of Peel and Sainte-Catherine streets is the Broadway of Montreal where all tourists end up at some point.

Down Stanley Street, you may notice a very dark establishment: Budd’s. It’s the chic rendezvous of Montreal West. Right around the corner, there is the Lime-Light, a very happening club until six in the morning.

North of Saint-Catherine, on the east side of the street, a dark door gives access to Chez Dominique, the most exclusive nightclub of the metropolis. The construction cost over 300,000$ and it’s the favourite rendezvous of all the flirters of the west of the city. There we find the most beautiful girls of the metropolis… and with a little tact, one can make a very interesting catch.

On de Maisonneuve Boulevard, at the corner of Mountain and Crescent Street, two outdoor cafes attract regulars like magnets. Back to back, there’s Bourgetel and La Casa Pedro and they are in some kind of competition. This is the rendezvous of all admirers of the fairer sex and it is even the headquarters of the “girl-watchers.”

The “English and French babes” who haunt the neighbourhood have a clear need for liberation and most have dropped wearing bras, so the spectacle is worth sitting down for.

Crescent Street is the real fair. On busy nights, it’s difficult to move about. There, we meet bikers in leather jackets – that mainly go the Poor Richard’s and William Tell, as much as very chic “mods” that go to the Rally Club, Barraka, Sexe-Machine or to Thursday.

Sellers of marijuana and hashish are plentiful… it’s a true marketplace.

Here for a quick tour of the city centre… And in the middle of this mess we find a people who live there, work there and have fun.

An alternative guide to 1974 Montreal: Montréal Insolite, pt. 1  
 Blue Metropolis: Montreal 1975 / 2015 discussion

Leave a Comment

Comments

  1. John
    Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
    Question - what was the name of bar before Ziggy's on Crescent. Street.
    • David McCarthy
      Friday, June 19th, 2020
      The Wrong Number
  2. Marvin
    Sunday, July 9th, 2017
    There was as Italian Resto on Cote Des Neiges near the now Metro with a large water fountain. What was it called?
    • Casey
      Tuesday, October 9th, 2018
      Chez Vito
    • thomas szirmay
      Friday, December 4th, 2020
      Paesano
  3. Richard Skelly
    Sunday, December 10th, 2017
    Well done. This definitely captures the era.

    As a West Coaster, I spent summer ‘74 taking French Immersion at the University Of Montreal. Program leaders Chantal Massinon and Pierre Nadeau included a visit to local restaurants in the curriculum. I’m pretty sure Le Gobelet was on the list. After hours, I remember great nights at Cafe Campus soaking up sounds from artists such as Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.

    I arrived a few weeks before the course to better soak up the city’s cultural ambience. One of my local guides was Liam Mullan. Arguably Canada’s greatest record promo man of that era, he had recently relocated from Vancouver, but knew Montreal well.

    That summer also featured a huge outdoor anti-Vietnam War event with Jane Fonda as a featured speaker. Rounding things out, day or night, was superb bilingual rock radio, courtesy of CHOM.

    Plus there was an unforgettable open air concert pairing Joni Mitchell with French chanteuse Veronique Sanson. Joni was backed up by Tom Scott and the LA Express. While Sanson performed, I briefly chatted with Veronique’s then-husband Stephen Stills. He popped up by the mid-field mixing board to ensure technicians made adjustments for his new spouse’s unique voice.

    Again, salut to this site’s curators for using text and photos to bring to life a very special year in Montreal.
  4. Richard Skelly
    Sunday, December 31st, 2017
    Since commenting December 10, I learned Chantal Massinon passed away in 1999. As a French language instructor, she was nonpareil. My classroom time with this woman extraordinaire helped me navigate Montreal during the rest of summer of ‘74 and a subsequent trip. A loving reminiscence of Chantal, posted by friend Anne Aucy, survives at par4chemins.free.fr

    Au revoir, Chantal.

    Richard Skelly
    rockinrichskelly@yahoo.com
  5. Holly Avila
    Sunday, July 1st, 2018
    If you hung out in Le Vieux Montreal that summer, I was the American hippie woman singing on the streets with my Quebec Quoi girl friend. I wrote a song that summer that is on my CD, Mountains Back Home, and I'm writing my memoirs from that summer, since I kept a journal at the time. I would love any photos from those years, particularly of the Iroquois Hotel, where I often stayed. hollyavila.com
    • Mary
      Tuesday, October 16th, 2018
      Hi Carole,
      I sure do remember, having spend most of my (underage then) evenings there for 2 years and so. It was very special, roomy for dance, aery with its two floors height, and the crowd was really nice.
      I think the address was 1226 Stanley.
      But in mémories it seem to have been shadowed by the close bu Lime Light... Which I never liked as much.
      Many friendships there... I wonder were every one is gone.
      Hope live have been good to you. :)
  6. Carole
    Saturday, September 15th, 2018
    Does anybody remember the Lorelei dance hall on Santly st. ..?
    • Mary
      Tuesday, October 16th, 2018
      Mary
      Tuesday, October 16th, 2018
      Hi Carole,
      I sure do remember, having spend most of my (underage then) evenings there for 2 years and so. It was very special, roomy for dance, aery with its two floors height, and the crowd was really nice.
      I think the address was 1226 Stanley.
      But in mémories it seem to have been shadowed by the close bu Lime Light... Which I never liked as much.
      Many friendships there... I wonder were every one is gone.
      Hope live have been good to you. :)
    • Edith
      Monday, December 31st, 2018
      Yes! I used to go there all the time in the mid-70s when I was 18 or so. Loved dancing there.
    • Casey M
      Thursday, February 18th, 2021
      Yep wasn't called Loreleight right next to Limelight... One of my first underage clubes I frequented. Is was a open 2 floor club, huge Dance floor in the center, Band at the end. Second floor, here was tables all around onto opened flor!
  7. Vicki, Chicago, IL
    Monday, November 12th, 2018
    Hi! I passed through Montreal in the summer of '74 and have always wondered where I stayed. My girlfriend and I were backpacking and we met a student who invited us back to his dorm downtown. It was a high rise and there were police outside but we walked in no problem. Inside we were able to buy and smoke marijuana freely. We appreciated the hospitality. Any idea what school that was?
    • Steve
      Monday, February 4th, 2019
      Sounds like YMCA on Stanley street
  8. Barbara Farnham
    Tuesday, June 16th, 2020
    Trying to find a magazine type information for my brother who worked at Le Gobelet in the 70 's
    Les dernieres annee de le Gobelet
  9. Celine
    Thursday, April 8th, 2021
    Quels souvenirs! Merci!
  10. Win
    Monday, September 6th, 2021
    Does anyone remember the restaurant La Tour Eiffel on rue Stanley . There was a wonderful chanteuse from Guadeloupe who sang beautiful songs and played guitar. Wish I could recall her name.