Downtown Montreal Mosey

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Luci’s back in Powell River for a few months to keep her job going and keep the plants alive and all that, and I’m on my own for awhile. So I’ve started to do what I’ve wanted to do for most of my life. Really get to know downtown Montreal.

Today I drove down at 8:30 am, parked my car across the street from the Forum, walked down Ste, Catherines four kilometres to St. Laurent, walked up the Main about a kilometre to Prince Arthur, headed east to St. Denis, went down St. Denis to Rene Levesque, down Rene Levesque to Crescent, turned left into Chinatown, turned right on Gauchetiere to University, up to Ste. Catherines, and back to the Forum to my car.

Almost 12 kilometers. But I stopped at a bar on Peel where I fired up Skype and talked to Luci in Powell River for awhile.

Montreal has a fantastic downtown. When I started this big honkin’ walk it was early Saturday morning, and the streets were quiet. But as the hours rolled on, the streets came alive. It was interesting to see.

Below is a picture of the Sun Life Building that I took in about 1963 when I was thirteen. The Sun Life Building used to be the headquarters of the NHL before they took their typewriters and ledgers and secretaries and moved to New York.

It was where NHL Prez Clarence Campbell had his office and took phone calls and advice from owners like Conn Smythe and Arthur Wirtz and James D. Norris.

And it was where Maurice Richard got hauled up on the carpet in 1955 and was suspended by Campbell for the remainder of the season and all the playoffs after the Rocket, for very good reason, punched a linesman in the face. A perfect situation for rascals like Smythe and Wirtz and Norris to have happen.

I can see it now. The phone would ring and one of Campbell’s secretaries would answer, get on the intercom, and say, “Mr. Campbell, Mr. Smythe is on the line,” and Clarence would pick up the phone and say “Hi Conn, how’s things in Toronto? Have they found Barilko’s body yet?”

And Smythe would say, “Never mind that, Clarence, you have to put the hammer down once and for all with Richard. He’s getting too big for his bridges. He’s been in a lot of shit this year, he could hurt one of our guys, and I don’t care about those damn newspaper stories that say Richard is taunted and harassed by opposing players. It’s not true. Ted Lindsay and the rest are swell people. Real gentlemen. So Clarence, me and the boys feel that the next time this Richard bastard runs afoul, we want you to deal with it properly or we’ll fill your seat with King Clancy or someone like that. Someone who listens.”

So Rocket got the big suspension which led to hoodlums trashing shops near the Forum on Ste. Catherines St.

I noticed today that there’s still lots of old buildings near the Forum that would have been there during that riot.

Back to the Sun Life building. It was an important place for a young hockey fan like myself, a historic place, and I took a picture of it back then.

And below that, a couple of pictures I took of it today.

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10 thoughts on “Downtown Montreal Mosey”

  1. It makes me nostalgic just seeing those photos, Dennis. Growing up in Montreal, these sights were as much a part of my life as, well, smoked meat and potato knishes! Thanks for sharing them with us.

  2. When I worked for the Y years ago my boss was a pal of this guy who did the schedules for the entire NHL. I was sent to the NHL office one time to bring this guy something and they had this big beautiful NHL crest on the wall. It was made of metal. I so wanted to take it off the wall and keep it.

    That’s a heck of a walk Dennis. You’re learning you way and soon it’ll be all old hat you.

  3. Ian, that was an outstanding walk and really enjoyed it. Tried the Peel Pub but they didn’t have WiFi so I went next door to the Republic. Reubens on St. Catherines didn’t have WiFi either.

  4. Darth, I tried to research what floor the NHL offices were on but couldn’t find it.

  5. Yesterday my dog Toaster and I also walked about downtown, but we stuck to the Olmsted Trail up to Beaver Lake. Even though I was born/raised here I’ve never been to Mont-Royal park. (Mostly because it was dirty, scary, full of hippies and druggies when I was younger. Now it’s cleaner. And the hippies only come out on Sunday. The others come out at night).

    Prince-Arthur makes me sad. It’s even more dead now than ever. More than half the places are gone, bankrupt, taxed out, burnt down and replaced by condos…

    My brother works in the Sun Life building. Nothing fancy though, he’s a game/software tester in a sea of insurance, investment brokers, and lawyers.

    If you need pointers on the rapidly declining sneaky free parking areas, I can help ;)

  6. 31, thanks. Parking tips are important things. I found the Alexis Nihon parking area cheaper. It was $5.50 as opposed to the $10.00 places which seem to be the norm.

  7. On Weekends, when I go downtown (core), usually Dr. Penfield has plenty of free street parking. When I head to the Old Port, Peel St down by the basin (you can see the Five Roses sign) is good. Westmount’s street parking is only for 4 hours unless stated otherwise. I hate paying for parking unless I got no choice ;)

  8. Dennis, if you were inside the Alexis Nihon, you can say that you visited the ruins of the old Westmount Arena, where the Habs won their first Cup. Hard to tell, eh?

  9. Thanks again, 31. I looked up Dr. Penfield and found it to be in area I’d like to explore, around McGill. The Peel one too looks great. Appreciate it very much.

  10. Robert, the Alexis Nihon is where we would usually park when we came down from Ottawa for games. Saw Serge Savard getting into his car there once after a game in the 70s. Thanks about the Westmount Arena info. I think it must look exactly the same now, except for the Shoppers Drug Mart and fast food places!

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