The Main represents Montreal’s history the same way growth rings determine the age of a tree. Of course, you probably already know that. After all, it isn’t called the Main for nothing.
Here are five spots located on the Saint-Laurent Boulevard that will hopefully let you discover something new about the city of Montreal and its history.
SECOND CUP3695 SAINT-LAURENT MONTRÉAL QUÉBEC H2X 2V7Long, long ago, when the Internet did not exist and people had no notion of what a selfy was, the city of Montreal was bubbling with energy thanks to places such as Jardin Guilbault. After having moved many times, the memories of the very first botanical garden are now associated to the intersection of Guilbault Street and Saint-Laurent Boulevard. 150 years ago, people would gather in this enormous garden for travelling road shows or for fireworks. They could also stop by to admire animal and botanical rarities. And just like today on Wikipedia, they could linger for hours on end discovering things about the world.
PHARMAPRIX3861 SAINT-LAURENT MONTRÉAL QUÉBEC H2W 1Y1The location of the brand new Pharmaprix on Saint-Laurent Boulevard is where an important page of the Main’s history lies as well. Back in 1935, Warsharw’s Bargain Fruit Market was located at 3863. Fun fact: one day, they suggested the founder to write his name on the shop window so customers could identify his store. Since he was illiterate (consequently unable to write his name), he suggested the name of his hometown: Warshaw. Many years later, Laja Florkevitch (better known as ‘Mrs. Warshaw’) extended her store in 1958 after buying the lot adjacent to her property. Her daughter Helen Levy continued on with the expansion in 1964 by buying the neighboring properties so as to create a supermarket with an underground parking lot and a warehouse on the first floor. Doesn’t this sound like shop stories straight out of a Montreal version of Downtown Abbey?
MONUMENTS L BERSON & FILS3884 SAINT-LAURENT MONTRÉAL QUÉBEC H2W 1Y2A prime example of Saint-Laurent Boulevard history, the funerary monument maker L. Berson & Fils is set up at the same spot since 1922 – almost 100 years! Four generations of the family has maintained ownership of the business and has allowed their values to overcome the passage of time. Talk about commitment to family business!
BAIN SCHUBERT3950 SAINT-LAURENT MONTRÉAL QUÉBEC H2W 1Y3At an era where Montrealers had no hot water in their homes, Bain Schubert was built in 1931 by Joseph Schubert, city councilor and first Jewish elected representative. The purpose was to provide a sanitary establishment where local workers could go wash up after a hard day’s work – and back then, there was plenty of that type of labor to go around! The Saint-Laurent Boulevard was home to many sewing shops where a great number of people would work exceedingly long hours – conditions that would be considered unacceptable today. Today, this building is now a swimming pool where people can go to relax with recreational swimming or to practice water sports. To each their own shower at home, right?
CINÉMA L'AMOUR4015 SAINT-LAURENT MONTRÉAL QUÉBEC H2W 1Y4OK. So you’re probably wondering ‘What is Cinéma l’Amour doing in Saint-Laurent’s historical itinerary? Isn’t that where people go to… well… you know!?’ Yet, it is an iconic site on the Boulevard! Since the opening of the Globe Theatre in 1914 at the same address, the building interior has barely been modified, which gives it its unique style. Since 1969 (we are not kidding!), the establishment has become an erotic cinema. Although it may not be the type of cinema most people would openly name when their colleagues ask them where they went over the weekend, its continued existence can only be explained by its popularity.
So, there is no shortage of historical sites on the Main, but if you cannot tell how much has happened (and is still happening) on the Saint-Laurent Boulevard from these five destinations alone… then we have an issue!