Updates from September, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Kate 20:16 on 2019-09-24 Permalink | Reply  

    It’s the end of the road for the Village baubles. A CBC Facebook post I can’t locate says they were all sold off.

    • david100 02:30 on 2019-09-26 Permalink

      Those things represented a distinct break from one era of that part of Saint Catherine to another – broadly, from the gritty old times of gay clubs, casse-croutes, dollar beer and all the pre-internet shops, to another era of cocktails and other hallmarks of gentrification. The area has moved into a new phase over the past couple years, with the end of most of the gay stuff, significant new housing construction, renovictions, etc, and it seems entirely likely that whatever replaces these balls will fit the new phase of the neighborhood’s life more these relatively old school Montreal things do.

    • JaneyB 12:53 on 2019-09-26 Permalink

      Perhaps the new phase could include cocktail…umbrellas – playful, summery, still gay but not gritty. Could work.

  • Kate 18:50 on 2019-09-24 Permalink | Reply  

    As was presaged, the real estate promoters who had their eye on the land to be turned into the Grand parc de l’ouest are suing the city for $175 million.

  • Kate 18:48 on 2019-09-24 Permalink | Reply  

    The MUHC is testing drone delivery of emergency medical supplies.

    • Kate 18:39 on 2019-09-24 Permalink | Reply  

      On the weekend I linked to one of the Gazette’s archive stories about Michael Jackson’s concert here in 1984 and it reminded me of an anecdote told me by a friend.

      Back then, the best English-language bookstore in the city was Classic, on Ste-Catherine near Crescent, a couple of doors west of where the Apple store is now. I didn’t know J. then, but he worked in the store (where I was a regular customer). The store had a narrow unassuming frontage but once you got inside it ramified far back and up three floors. J. tells me he encountered many famous faces – politicians, movie stars and others – who shopped there while he was on the staff.

      Michael Jackson blows into town, and the store gets a call from his entourage, saying Jackson feels like shopping for books but he can’t exactly step out along Ste-Catherine Street without causing a riot. Somehow, nobody but J. is into staying late to enable Jackson to visit the store after hours, so he stays. An unmarked white van draws up, but can’t quite park directly in front. As Jackson and handler cross the sidewalk into the store, somebody spots him.

      J. hangs out discreetly while Jackson looks at books and talks very quietly to the handler. Meanwhile a crowd is gathering outside the store, people peering in through the windows. I don’t know how they coordinated it before cellphones, but the van went around back and picked the two men up from the loading dock to avoid the crowd. J. was invited to go up to Jackson’s hotel suite later, where he was given front-row tickets to the show the next day.

      I guess this kind of thing happens from time to time in the retail world, but this story relates to the Gazette bit last week, so it seemed of relevance.

      It was a great bookstore, and I still miss it.

      • Fab Franco 09:36 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

        Classic? I think you got the name wrong or you’ve internalized made-in-Quebec apostrophobia. It was either Classics or Classic’s from my recollection.

        I’ve heard similar stories from a retail clerk in one of those clothing stores near Peel. She said E. Iglesias was a jerk. Vanessa Williams had bad acne and one of those aging boy bands was given a bunch of free t-shirts that nobody wanted cuz they were orange and they all wore them on stage the next night.

      • Kate 11:49 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

        According to this blog post from 2010 (I don’t personally know the author):

        a Montreal retail bookshop on St. Catherine Street West called Classic Book Shop, or Classics as it was referred to by many people including myself.

        The bookmark shown in the piece calls it Classic Books. The Lovell directory for 1984 lists it as Classic Bookshops.

        People often fall into this, like calling the Italian grocery store on the Main “Milano’s” although it’s really just called Milano, and so on.

      • Michael Black 12:12 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

        I remember it as “Classics” but just searched and found that blog posting. Since he includes photos of the famous bookmarks, you must be right. Though maybe they changed the name later. I have a stash of their bookmarks somewhere, but doubt any are than older than the ones in the blog photo.

        Of course the store on the Apple Store side was the paperback store, at least originally. The first Classic I remember was across the street, where the police station is now. Certainly they had a children’s section there. Every time we had a doctor or dentist appointment downtown, we’d be taken afterwards to that store. I got my first science fiction there. And they had stores elsewhere, I’d buy How & Why Wonder books and Tom Swift books at the small store in Westmount Square.

        But by the time I really started buying books, it was 1976, and I’d go to the paperback store. I think it expanded at some point, but I can’t remember. At some point, the store across the street became a clearance centre, but can’t remember exactly when. I think I bought my beat up hardcover dictionary there, it would have been 1977.

        The employees went on strike, a long one, at least twice, and that was mostly the end. I think in 1979, but also about 1984. I forget when it finally closed down.

        In mid-July 1974 someone immolated himself in front of the store. The news later said something about a book that he wrote but the store wouldn’t carry, or.maybe something else, it’s been too long. I was walking west about a block away and saw flames going into the sky. I knew there was construction there. But as I passed in front of the store, someone was on the ground and workers were putting the flames out. I could have joined in, but worried about doing the wrong thing. He died about two weeks later.


      • Kate 13:13 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

        Michael, your memories tally with mine, especially buying science fiction. Lots of good SF (and a fair bit of crap fantasy) was coming out at that time and I doubt I ever walked along Ste-Catherine without stopping in that store and seeing what was new. Often enough I went downtown for no other reason.

        And yes, a strike is what eventually ended it. The owner was happier closing it down than giving the workers a raise. The anglo community was so pole-axed by that time that nobody in the media noticed we were losing a valuable cultural resource.

        I never heard about the self-immolation, though. Horrible stuff.

    • Kate 08:09 on 2019-09-24 Permalink | Reply  

      TVA notes some glitches in the finishing work on the northern half of Plaza Saint-Hubert although it’s unclear what this has to do with the death of a passerby in a construction accident a few weeks ago. Nick from Café Crème is quoted with the sour observation that the city’s faster to put in profitable parking meters than garbage cans.

      • mare 09:38 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

        Speaking of garbage cans, I have a client there who showed me the newly installed garbage cans in front of his shop. They’re “open concept”, maybe so the garbage collectors can see if they need to be emptied. The inside bins are made of steel wire though, so they leak all the fluid garbage people throw in them, Half empty coke cans, ice cream, whatever. So after just one week the new spiffy sidewalk pavers around the garbage cans are already ugly, stained and sticky. Maybe it will improve when the awning is going to cover them (installation scheduled for October) and less rain will wash through them, but still, it didn’t look good. He was not happy.

        He was happy however with the fact that real estate prices were soaring in the neighbourhood and “that will improve the ethnicity of the shoppers”. His words. I almost ditched him as a client there and then, especially since he’s a second generation immigrant himself.

      • Spi 12:25 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

        I’m surprised to learn that the awnings are going back up so quickly. Shouldn’t they wait a bit and give a chance to more business/building owners to fix up their storefronts now since it’s more easily done. Some have already done so.

      • Bill Binns 14:25 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

        I was just up there yesterday afternoon. I realize it’s not done yet but I would describe it as “bleak”. St Hubert may be a case study to convince the city that healthy mature trees must be saved at all costs. They are literally irreplaceable (unless you wait 30-50 years). I’m sure the city will crow about how many little spindly saplings they plug into holes in the sidewalk as they wrap up the project. Hopefully a few of them will survive long enough to someday provide shade to citizens currently in kindergarten.

      • CE 15:47 on 2019-09-24 Permalink

        I just biked there today and was struck by its bleakness as well. The trees made a huge difference (you could really see it when there were still trees at the southern half). I also felt like the light coloured paving stones added to some of the bleakness but maybe they’ll look better after they’ve aged somewhat. I really hope they put some benches in when they install the rest of the street furniture, they really liven up a space.

      • Kate 22:08 on 2019-09-25 Permalink

        It really is bleak. I saw the contrast in July when the difference in vibe between the southern section, where the trees were still untouched, and the northern half, absolutely treeless, was striking.

        This city really does play a game of handwaving the 50 or more years it takes for a tree to grow to a good, shady size.

      • mare 07:55 on 2019-09-26 Permalink

        After 50 years a tree would have become too big there, but it is very empty now. The awnings and 200 trees (yes, that many on just those two blocks) will make a big improvement. My source says they probably won’t plant the trees now, as originally planned, afraid too many will perish in the winter or get damaged when the awnings are installed. So we’ll have to wait until the spring to see how small the trees really are.

    • Kate 07:40 on 2019-09-24 Permalink | Reply  

      Since the Caisse de dépôt ordained the creation and the route of the REM, should it surprise us that they’ve placed a station in an area with very little going on around it – now – but in which it has been investing speculatively for a long time? Although it’s not a shock story, Linda Gyulai digs deep into the Caisse’s long, previously unsuccessful involvement in the area it’s still trying to turn to profit. (Thanks to ant6n for the link.)

      In other REM news, La Presse notes that after January 6, nobody in Deux-Montagnes will be able to get downtown by train before 2023 because of REM construction.

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