Montréal Underground Origins Blog

Live from Earth: Prince Arthur 1970, Montreal’s Haight-Ashbury?


LR: You must’ve sold ZAP Comix…

Larry: Oh yeah, well a lot of what we’re doing right now, you know the old saying, ‘what goes around, comes around’… Many people who knew me back then are amused at the irony that I’m right back where I started. I had sold my interest in the shop to my partners because we had taken in Indian garments from a young Indian guy who was peddling accounting, and he would bring over stuff from India. And he started leaving stuff in the shop on consignment. We had a shop that was about as big as this office right here (about 14 by 14 feet). It was an amazing little shop that did extremely well. The T-shirts were hot, so I had the Indian guy bring back a whole bunch of T-shirts, and I sold all the T-shirts, and I thought “This is a really serious business” so I set up my own business doing Indian imports, and that was it. For over twenty years I’ve worked out of India and many other countries. So I sold my shares in the store, went into wholesale import and trading, and eventually by the eighties became quite successful. The nineties took care of that success.

But it led me to travel all over that part of the world in the 70’s. And on a beach at a New Year’s party in Goa I met a very beautiful, lovely Indian girl who became my wife and mother of my three children, and we’re still married. Surely the most precious thing I’d found in India.

I’d been in India about seven years by then. They had an incredible ticket back then, it was so cheap, even in the 70’s you couldn’t afford not to go. It was an excursion ticket, you had to stay for at least 3 weeks, and you couldn’t stay longer than 4 months. And I spent every winter over there, travelling, drifting around India, basically learning where the craft was, and hanging out, smoking a lot of hashish, and drifting in and out of the different scenes there. Because it was very much the road scene—

LR: There were other Westerners to hook up with…

Larry: Oh yeah, there were a lot of people, that was very much the hip thing, the end of the 60’s, beginning of the 70’s, there was a massive ‘road’ scene there, they called it “the Road to Kathmandu.” The summers of extreme heat in India, they’d spend them in the mountains of Nepal, India or Afghanistan. Most of the time rolling, hand-rolling and processing cheris, uh, hashish.

LR: You’d get a job doing that?

Larry: Well, you’d just do it yourself. Produce a certain amount, then in the fall, you’d drift down to Goa, where the tourists started coming in, they’d call it the ‘season,’ pretty much like what happened in Cote d’Azure. People would arrive about mid-December because there was a big New Year’s party every year there. When I met my wife, there were over 10 000 Westerners on a beach, there was more hash smoke than in a pool hall. There was an immense scene for this party—it had been building and building over the years. So you’d come down from the mountains, people would deal their hash, houses were rented for like 10, 15 bucks a month. Life was very good and the sea was beautiful…

I had also during the 70’s invested in a head shop business that became Canada’s largest paraphernalia distributor. It was called Northern Toke. We manufactured for the first time many of the types of pipes that are on the market now. We also sold bongs and papers that we imported from the United States. All of the things that are happening now in this industry first happened then. I’m told that in California, a lot of the Indian clothing we had is coming back, a lot of the prints we were selling in the 1970s are selling again. And the popularization of marijuana is of course coming back, this time much stronger.

LR: Especially with the medical stuff…

Larry: Well we didn’t have those things as a backup then, the clothing, the food potential of hemp, all this information that leads one to believe that this is an enormously important resource, um… we just smoked it, and every once in awhile in the fog of the smoke someone would say “You know, it makes good rope. Sails were made out of it.” But we never got past that, you know, the information had actually been expunged. And then this is the most important textile resource the world had, or has, and it’s not a part of our history books. To have had that taken away, they had to consciously manipulate history.

5 Comments  |  Categories: Oral History  |  Tags: ,
Montreal Sound Ark  
 Da Vinci Vol. 1 No. 3, Véhicule Press, 1974

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  1. Thursday, March 5th, 2015
    Another comment test, much enjoyed this article, would love to track down Larry Duprey if he's still around -- hope he's doing well!
    • Martine
      Tuesday, December 29th, 2020
      Hello there,
      I am Larry's daughter.
      Unfortunately he passed away in 2018. But you are always welcome to write me if you have questions about him.

  2. Guy Badeaux
    Saturday, August 24th, 2019
    The "Vol de nuit" opened in the late 70's, replacing a bar, favoured by locals, that ran a racy film on their Scopitone when you selected "All the Tired Horses" on the juke box.
    • Guy Badeaux
      Saturday, August 24th, 2019
      I was mistaken. The Scopitone was in the bar that "Le Prince Arthur" replaced.
  3. Mary Fortuna
    Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023
    I was lucky enough to live in Montreal in the mid-seventies. I lived in an apartment on Coloniale south of Prince Arthur, most of the tenants were a collection of hippie types who often shared meals and regularly sat around a fire in the common courtyard. Lots of Portuguese neighbors who were happy to share their home made wine.

    One of the brothers in the family who owned the Mazurka was a dear friend. I still remember the many great meals I enjoyed there, and it remains one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. I'm amazed to hear it lasted until 2014, that's a pretty good run.

    There was a group of street-circus performers who used to work on their routines in Carre Saint Louis. They called themselves Fils du Soleil. I've often wondered if they were the an early version of Cirque du Soleil, (they had a similar vibe, though less polished and elaborate) but I've never been able to find any information.

    I'm so glad I ran across this interview, I loved my time in Montreal and I'm feeling a little nostalgic tonight.